The new OWLP Landscape Boundary

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As part of the development phase works we have reconsidered the boundary for the OWLP scheme area. This was included in the work done as part of the Landscape Character Assessment , commissioned by the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership to Sheils Flynn.

Redrawing the boundary

For our stage 1 submission, back in early 2012, the boundary drawn was still relatively simple. Not anymore. Following the recent finalisation of the Landscape Character Assessment for the OWLP area and the Landscape Conservation Action Plan as part of our stage 2 submission, I can now show you the final results of this work.

First of all, spot the differences:

A4_Boundary

Boundary as drawn for the OWLP’s stage 1 application, February 2012

337-LA-10 - Parish Boundaries

OWLP boundary as defined for the stage 2 submission, November 2013. Map created by Sheils Flynn for OWLP. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2013 – not to be reproduced.

In their comments on our stage 1 bid, the HLF considered the OWLP area boundary somewhat vague and arbitrary; despite numerous hours of discussion between partners had already gone into this.

A coherent landscape

A requirement for the stage 2 submission was, thus, to come up with a better described, understood and more coherent boundary. The new landscape boundary is based on careful consideration of a number of related factors:

  • The boundary surrounds a strongly coherent landscape. The vast majority of the OWLP landscape is below the 5 m contour line.This is a distinct landscape, with a unique history, linear waterways, significant wetlands and which plays an important role in food production, drainage and flood prevention.
  • The boundary is driven by the landscape using natural boundaries.
  • The boundary is understood by local people – as part of the community consultations held during the Audience & Access work, people were shown draft versions of the new map, to which people responded positively, as the boundary line follows local landscape features such as roads, drains and other, locally recognised landscape features.
  • The boundary reflects historic patterns of land use: the ‘territory’ associated with the Fen Isle villages, including for instance historic field patterns, droveways and outlying farmsteads, together describe historic patterns of land use and the present-day sense of community in this part of the Fens. Settlements developed on ‘islands’ of higher land in an otherwise expansive and historically marshy landscape. The most productive arable fields were concentrated on the more elevated, relatively well-drained land surrounding the villages, with pasture on seasonally water-logged meadows. The marshy fenlands, which covered vast areas of the Fen Basin, were an important economic resource, used for cutting peat, reeds and sedge and to provide a constant supply of wildfowl, fish and eels.
  • The boundary contains a relatively empty landscape, with a scatter of settlements on the areas of higher land on and around the edge; relatively well-drained soils fringe the low-lying fen that was the focus of the Ouse Washes drainage scheme. The settlements function as individual gateways to the central, lower landscape.
  • The boundary coincides with the historic road pattern: the alignment of roads and causewayed tracks connects the villages and forms a loose ring around the Ouse Washes.
  • The boundary contains an internationally significant wetland landscape: recent wetland and fen restoration projects and opportunities for new wetlands as part of the Great Ouse Wetland and Fens Wetland Vision projects contribute to the international value of the Ouse Washes and have the potential to provide superb opportunities for public access, recreation and environmental education.

Crossing multiple boundaries

The OWLP area covers two Counties (Cambridgeshire and Norfolk), five different Districts (Kings Lynn & West Norfolk BC, Fenland DC, East Cambridgeshire DC, Huntingdonshire DC and South Cambridgeshire DC) and no less than 29 Parishes.

In the process of redefining the boundary for the OWLP landscape, the total area increased from 199 km2 at the stage 1 bid to 243 km2 now, stretching for 48.5 km between Denver and Downham Market at the northern end and Fen Drayton and St Ives to its south.

The OWLP residents

The OWLP area contains 25 villages/settlements which are either fully or partially within, or directly abutting the area’s boundary:

  • In Norfolk these are Denver, Salters Lode, Fordham, Nordelph, Ten Mile Bank, Welney, Tipps End and Lakes End.
  • The Cambridgeshire settlements are Manea, Pymoor, Wardy Hill, Coveney, Witcham, Mepal, Sutton, Earith, Aldreth, Over, Swavesey, Fen Drayton, Holywell, Needingworth, Bluntisham, Colne and Somersham.
  • Close by are also the settlements of Hemingford Grey, Willingham, Haddenham and Little Downham (Cambridgeshire) and Hilgay (Norfolk).

The resident population of the LP area is 33,010. Outside the Ouse Washes LP area the neighbouring towns within a c10km zone are Downham Market, Littleport, Ely, Chatteris, March, St Ives, Huntingdon and Cambridge; they have a collective resident population of 236,688. The OWLP scheme’s delivery phase focuses on both the local residents and market town residents.

337-LA-001 - Location Map

Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area – Location Map. Map created by Sheils Flynn for OWLP. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2013 – not to be reproduced.

Click on the above map (X 2) to zoom in; the maps displayed here can also be viewed in our Resources section.

What do you think?

What do you think? Does this boundary indeed reflect local people’s perceptions of what makes a coherent landscape? Let me know your thoughts – click on the balloon at the top to leave a comment, or contact me directly. Thank you.

 

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Tenders sought for Landscape Character Assessment

Heritage Lottery FundAs part of the development works towards the stage 2 bid application, we are now inviting landscape professionals to tender for a Landscape Character Assessment study. The brief for this work can be downloaded from the Cambridgeshire ACRE’s Ouse Washes LP webpage. Please pass on this message to anyone you think might be interested in carrying out this work on behalf of the Ouse Washes LP Partnership.

Old Bedford plus willows

Old Bedford River

The Landscape Character Assessment will focus on:

1. The development of a landscape typology, with detailed descriptions of landscape character areas. This will describe and explain the natural and historic elements that have shaped the landscape and which have given it its unique character.

 2. The provision of a public facing narrative, to tell the story of the landscape and to improve people’s understanding of, and connection to, the landscape and build their sense of place.

3. The production of guidelines for the future management of the landscape, to influence land management decisions and to provide a framework for future partnership work.

Why do we need this? The results from the Landscape Character Assessment will provide essential data which will feed into various workstreams, forming a robust context for further works to be carried out during both the development and delivery phases of the Ouse Washes LP scheme:

– It will form an essential element of the required Landscape Conservation Action Plan (LCAP), in particular for describing the character, distinctiveness and historical development of the various landscape types within the Ouse Washes area;

– It will inform the required refinement of the boundary of the Ouse Washes LP area, to show which parts of the landscape form a coherent and recognisable unit that makes sense locally and with which people can associate, and which is distinct from the surrounding landscape;

– It will help further refine the various projects which are planned for the scheme’s delivery phase (starting April 2014).

Fen Drayton 11Jan2013 028

Fen Drayton Lakes

To give you an understanding of the type of work that comes out of a Landscape Character Assessment, I have listed below the main Landscape Character Assessments which have been produced over the last two decades, all of which cover at least part of the Ouse Washes LP area:

 The East of England Landscape Typology, produced by Landscape East, 2010

National Character Area 46, 2012

National Character Area 88, 2011

Huntingdonshire Landscape and Townscape Assessment, 2007

King’s Lynn & West Norfolk LCA, 2007

The Cambridgeshire Landscape Guidelines, 1991

The Landscape Character Assessment for which we are now tendering will provide us with the first of such studies specifically focusing on the Ouse Washes landscape and – by zooming in on a relatively small landscape area – should provide more detail than is given in most of the existing relevant studies.