The landscape setting
11.1 Torbay owes its existence to its magnificent natural
setting. The three towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham have
each in their own way developed in response to their surroundings;
the relationship between the urban areas and their landscape
and seascape setting is unique. In terms of geographical area,
the urban parts cover some 3,400 hectares, the rural areas account
for about 2,800 hectares, while the Bay itself (6 kilometres
in width between the limestone headlands of Hope’s Nose
and Berry Head) accounts for roughly 3,400 hectares. The landscape
element of this trio is of particular importance because it not
only separates the main settlements and preserves their individual
identity but also provides a strongly unifying element which
underlines Torbay’s overall identity.
11.2 The high quality of Torbay’s landscape and
scenery is not only of intrinsic value. The quality of the environment
is fundamental to the economy of the area as a tourist destination,
and is of national and regional importance by virtue of the statutory
landscape designations. The three towns of Torquay, Paignton
and Brixham overlook Tor Bay to the east and are enclosed by
three major ridges to the north, west and south, each rising
between 120 and 180 metres (400-600 ft.) above sea level. The
Bay is sufficiently compact to be considered as a single entity
and is of a sufficient scale to give breathtaking panoramic views
across it of the landscape and townscape beyond.
11.3 The landform is a consequence of Torbay’s varied
and interesting geology, with hard limestones forming the headlands
of Hopes Nose and Berry Head, while the softer sandstones have
eroded to form the Bay. This coastal erosion is an ongoing feature
in some areas, which needs to be taken into account in development
proposals in the Coastal Protection Zone (Policy EP12 refers).
Other variations in geomorphology have given rise to a variety
of natural features and where the hills and valleys meet the
sea, they have formed Torbay’s unique and fascinating coastline
of rock cliffs, attractive bays and sandy beaches.
11.4 Overlying this landform is a great diversity of vegetation
influenced by the underlying geology, soil structure, microclimate,
and latterly by land use. Encompassing the towns of Paignton
and Torquay there is a sheltered and mild zone influenced by
the sea, where sub-tropical plants thrive. This is why Torbay
is known as the ‘English Riviera’. Even in less sheltered
parts, the mild climate has enabled a rich landscape to develop,
with extensive tree-lined avenues and wooded areas, especially
seen within the towns’ Conservation Areas.
11.5 On the edge of the built-up area are the more rugged
landscapes of the headlands at Berry Head and Hopes Nose. Pine
and evergreen oak are the dominant trees in these areas, with
ash and sycamore colonising in scrub.
11.6 Outside the built-up area, the majority of land which
is perceived as landscape is in fact in use for agriculture.
The classic form of field boundaries with Devon banks and hedgerows
also forms a key characteristic of Torbay’s rural hinterland,
in addition to the extensive areas of woodland that exist within
the towns and as part of the agricultural landscape. Some of
these are managed for forestry. Within built-up areas, islands
and ridges of mature trees or mixed vegetation form key landscape
features of our urban environment.
Strategy for landscape and the green environment
11.7 It is Government policy, expressed in PPG7 ‘The
Countryside - Environmental Quality and Economic and Social Development’ (1997),
that the countryside should be safeguarded for its own sake and
that non-renewable and natural resources should be afforded protection
(paragraph 2.14). The planning system should endeavour “to
integrate the development necessary to sustain economic and social
activity in rural communities with protection of the countryside
for the sake of its beauty, the diversity of its landscape and
historic character, the wealth of its natural resources and its
ecological, agricultural, recreational and archaeological value” (paragraph
2.2). PPG7 was revised in 2001 to reflect the need to support
sustainable farm diversification projects and the reuse of redundant
farm buildings. Such diversification should be consistent with
the scale and rural location of the farm. Policy LS sets
out a landscape strategy which emphasises the importance of Torbay’s
urban and rural natural resources and the importance of retaining
our countryside landscape.
11.8 The former Regional Planning Guidance for the South
West (RPG10 - 1994) recognised the outstanding quality and diversity
of both the region’s extensive coastline and inland landscape,
and the need for development plans to take account of this. It
specifically recognised that Torbay, which is set in an area
of high environmental quality, had limited scope for substantial
growth. The subsequent Regional Planning Guidance for the South
West (RPG10 - September 2001) reiterates these principles, and
notes the importance of rural and coastal landscapes for tourism,
as well as forming important biodiversity resources, and that
the open spaces around and between towns are valuable.
11.9 RPG10 Policy EN1 Landscape and Biodiversity indicates
that strong protection should be given to international and national
landscape areas and nature conservation sites. Local authorities
should also identify, in development plans, other significant
areas and take measures to protect the character of the countryside
and the environmental features that contribute to that character.
11.10 The Adopted Devon Structure Plan First Review (1999)
acknowledges that the landscape designations in Torbay and South
East Devon are a significant constraint to development and this
is one of the key factors in the Structure Plan’s constrained
housing provision for Torbay (see paragraph 3.12). The Devon
Structure Plan 2001-2016 (expected to be adopted in Summer/Autumn
2004) also recognises the environmental importance of Torbay.
Policy CO1 requires Local Planning Authorities to carry out detailed
assessments of landscape character and provide an appropriate
framework in local plans for dealing with them.
11.11 The strategy of the Local Plan (which is described
more fully in Chapter 2) is to conserve the high quality and
diversity of Torbay’s environment. New approaches such
as the Quality of Life Capital Approach (detailed in paragraph
11.26 and in the Environmental Guide (see Section
1)) can be used to analyse the benefits our green environment
provides. Using such innovative methods when assessing development
proposals will support the landscape policies in protecting and
managing the landscape and the green environment in both urban
and rural areas.
11.12 It is vitally important to maintain both the attractive
rural landscapes of Torbay and also the green wedges which separate
Torquay from Paignton, Paignton from Brixham, and likewise the
villages of Churston, Galmpton, Marldon (outside Torbay) and
Maidencombe. These green areas between the main towns and surrounding
settlements are considered to be of strategic importance. The
ridges which form the rim of Torbay are also significant and
although development has topped the ridge line at one or two
points, it is important that this is not permitted in the future,
in order to ensure that the landscape surrounding urban areas
is maintained. The Local Plan protects the countryside and the
gaps between the main towns in a number of ways.
11.13 Many aspects of Torbay’s landscape require
special protection and this is recognised by the designation
of several landscape policy areas, which together cover nearly
all the areas of countryside. The Area of Outstanding Natural
Beauty (AONB), which is nationally designated, is protected by Policy
11.14 The Local Plan includes additional designations
and references to landscape protection. Areas of Great Landscape
Value (AGLVs - Policy L2) cover a large area
of Torbay’s rural landscape, overlapping in some areas
with the Coastal Preservation Area (CPA - Policy L3),
which seeks to protect the scenic qualities of Torbay’s
coastline. The Countryside Zone (Policy L4)
aims to prevent urban sprawl and the coalescence of settlements
and underlies most of the above designations. The protection
of natural features of landscape value which may include hedgerow
boundaries or cliff faces are protected by Policy L8.
For planning purposes, those designations which affect the coastal
fringe apply to the mean low water mark (PPG20 ‘Coastal
Planning’ (1992) refers).
11.15 The town of Brixham is surrounded by the only AONB
within Torbay and also the CPA (covering land at Galmpton to
the west and the coastline at Berry Head / Sharkham to the east).
The adjacent South Devon Heritage Coast starts to the south of
Sharkham Point and continues south westerly along the South Hams
Coast. Most of the remaining open land around Brixham which is
excluded from AONB or CPA status is included within an AGLV.
11.16 Unfortunately the urban boundary on the north side
of Brixham extended into part of the AONB during the 1960s and
the existing designation limit is no longer appropriate. It is
not within the remit of the Local Plan to amend the boundary
of the AONB around Brixham, as these areas are designated under
separate legislation by the Countryside Agency.
11.17 Torquay and Paignton are to a large extent surrounded
by an AGLV reflecting the ridges which enclose the towns. The
rural coastal belt to the north of St. Marychurch and east of
the A379 Teignmouth Road, extending southwards to just beyond
Daddyhole Cove in Torquay is a Coastal Preservation Area
11.18 Landscape is not, of course, confined to the countryside.
Parts of the urban areas are quite clearly seen as landscape
and these have their own special importance as a foil to the
urban surroundings. The Local Plan therefore safeguards both
public and private urban green spaces not only for their landscape
quality but also for their amenity value (Policy L6).
It also identifies a number of Urban Landscape Protection Areas
(Policy L5) which have a special landscape quality
of local or wider importance.
11.19 More than half the land in Torbay which has not
been built over is in fact used for agricultural purposes. Agriculture
is therefore of great importance to the area. There is, however,
a limited amount of good agricultural land in Torbay and so wherever
possible, the higher grades of agricultural land should be preserved
and left free from development (see Policy L7).
Landscape management, trees and hedgerows
11.20 Although the landscape is normally considered to
be natural, it is in fact almost entirely influenced by human
activity. We therefore have a responsibility to improve it where
possible and to minimise any damaging effects of development
or change in the countryside. The planting of tree belts or in
some cases the restoration of the local landscape features like
grassland may be appropriate. Where necessary, landscaping schemes
should form an integral part of the development process (see Policies
L10, H9 and E9). The
planting of indigenous species also helps to maintain local distinctiveness
(see Environmental Guide, Sections 17and 18).
11.21 Trees and hedgerows are part of Torbay’s heritage.
They enhance the quality of the countryside, provide a habitat
for wildlife and soften and add character to built-up areas.
Many of the trees within Torbay are mature or over-mature and
since the proportion of saplings can be low, there is the prospect
of further depletion in the future. The tree stock must be maintained
for the future, so the protection and regeneration of our tree
cover, and especially the planting of new trees, is essential.
This will be achieved by the use of Tree Preservation Orders,
Conservation Area legislation and conditions to encourage proper
management. Policies L8, L9 and L10 relate
to these issues. The special nature of some landscape features,
such as ancient woodlands, calcareous grasslands or sea cliffs,
should be protected for their nature conservation value. Some
issues may therefore overlap with those considered in the Nature
Conservation Chapter. The Environmental Guide (see Sections
17 and 18) also deals with the importance,
protection and management of trees and development, as well as
making reference to landscaping considerations.
Access to the countryside
11.22 The countryside represents an opportunity for recreation,
relaxation and enjoyment of natural beauty. Historic Parks and
Gardens contain a number of features, both formal and natural,
that should be protected and managed for future generations to
enjoy. The management of the countryside and landscape should,
therefore, not only protect the essential features of the countryside,
particularly in relation to woodland areas, trees and hedgerows,
but also improve accessibility for recreation which is sympathetic
to the landscape character and does not have a negative impact.
Historic Parks and Gardens also provide areas of public access
to a number of features both formal and natural that should be
protected. Policy BE10 in the Built Environment
Chapter refers to these areas.
LANDSCAPE AND THE GREEN ENVIRONMENT POLICIES
LS Landscape strategy
The landscape setting of Torbay and its coast
and settlements will be protected from development which would
harm or detract from local character and distinctiveness. Priority
is accorded to maintaining the rural landscape surrounding the
built-up area and the strategic green wedges which lie between
the main towns and separate them from the surrounding villages.
Also, within the urban area, green space of local townscape,
recreational and/or amenity value will be retained as open space.
11.23 Landscapes of importance, both urban and rural,
should be preserved wherever possible. Countryside Agency research
has recognised that the countryside is under greater pressure
than ever before. Pressure for housing, commercial out-of-town
development, traffic growth and new roads, removal of hedgerows
and changes in farming and forestry practices, can all be listed
as factors that are threatening the character of our countryside.
11.24 The Local Plan strategy aims to protect Torbay’s
attractive coastal and rural landscape setting, including the
best agricultural land, hedgerows and woodlands, from unnecessary
and inappropriate development. Most of these areas are also protected
by their countryside zone designation, which addresses the need
to keep Torbay’s greenfield development to a minimum. In
addition to protecting most rural areas from development, the
Local Plan seeks to protect important enclaves of attractive
urban open space, which form so much of the character of our
11.25 Any proposals for change of use or development within
the countryside that are in conflict with the landscape character
of rural areas will be required to justify their choice of site.
Exceptions may be appropriate, but are likely to need to demonstrate
an overriding need if there are no suitable alternative sites
available, including land within the urban area or sites allocated
elsewhere in the Local Plan.
11.26 The Quality of Life Capital Approach guidance has
been commissioned by the Countryside Agency, English Heritage,
English Nature and the Environment Agency (see Environmental
Guide, Section 1). It is a useful way
to clarify the environmental consequences of development through
a process which seeks to define the important elements or attributes
of the green environment, evaluate the benefits they provide
and identify a wide range of environmental (and possibly social
and economic) issues. It therefore enables more flexible solutions
to mitigation and compensation measures that may be necessary.
This methodology is equally relevant to the evaluation of nature
L1 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
In designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
the conservation and enhancement of their natural beauty will
be given priority over other considerations. Within these areas,
development will only be permitted where it would support their
conservation or enhancement or would foster their social and
economic well-being, provided that such development is compatible
with their conservation. Development proposals adjacent to the
AONB will only be permitted where they would not damage the natural
beauty of the area.
11.27 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are
designated (under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside
Act 1949) by the Countryside Agency and then confirmed by the
Secretary of State. AONBs are selected by virtue of their nationally
important outstanding landscape quality. The cumulative effect
of creeping urbanisation and new development can erode the distinctive
character of the South Devon AONB. Increasing traffic, lighting,
noise and pollution can all reduce those qualities which are
much valued by residents and visitors.
11.28 In line with the objectives of the designation and
advice set out in PPG7 ‘The Countryside - Environmental
Quality and Economic and Social Development’ (revised 2001),
this policy aims to conserve and enhance the scenic beauty of
the landscape and protect the special qualities of Torbay’s
AONB, preventing insensitive development on the rural skyline
for example. However, the designation does not preclude minor
development of existing uses or development to meet the needs
of agriculture, forestry or other rural industries or the economic
and social well-being of the community at large. Where development
within the AONB is acceptable in principle, it should be in sympathy
with its surroundings. Special emphasis will therefore be placed
on the scale, location, siting, landscaping and visual impact
of such development.
11.29 A Government Ministerial Statement released in June
2000 formally amended paragraph 4.8 of the earlier version of
PPG7 to the effect that the landscape quality of National Parks
and AONBs are equivalent, and that protection given to both types
of areas by the planning system should also be equivalent. Government
advice now suggests that major proposals within the AONB need
to demonstrate that they are in the public interest before being
allowed to proceed. Consideration of applications for major development
should therefore normally include an assessment of:-
the need for the development , in terms of national considerations,
and the impact of permitting it or refusing it on the local
the cost of and scope for developing elsewhere outside
the area or meeting the need for it in some other way; and
any detrimental effect on the environment and the landscape,
and the extent to which that should be moderated.
11.30 As explained in paragraph 11.27, the designation
of AONBs is the responsibility of the Countryside Agency. However,
the Council has representation on the South Devon AONB Joint
Advisory Committee, whose aims are to ensure that there is a
workable balance between landscape protection, nature conservation,
recreation, tourism and farming, and to ensure that the area
is conserved and enhanced. It also acknowledges that changes
which take place within the South Devon AONB should not diminish
the very quality that visitors come to enjoy. The Advisory Committee
is currently reviewing the management of these areas and is keen
to see a review of the existing boundaries. The Council supports
these views. It is felt that a more appropriate boundary around
the Brixham urban area which would remove the anomalies of suburban
development will make the policy covering the truly rural areas
more robust. The South Devon AONB Partnership (which involves
Devon County Council, South Hams District Council, Torbay Council
and Plymouth City Council) adopted a statutory Management Plan
for the AONB during Summer 2004. The Plan sets out a long term
vision for the Area together with an action plan to implement
policies and priorities.
L2 Areas of Great Landscape Value
Development which is likely to affect, directly
or indirectly, designated Areas of Great Landscape Value (AGLV)
will only be permitted where it will maintain or enhance the
special landscape character of the AGLV.
11.31 AGLVs are areas of considerable importance to the
character of Torbay. They are either areas of high land or parts
of valley systems which have distinctive local character. These
unspoilt areas of Torbay contain historic and traditional buildings
complementary to the natural landscape. As such, they warrant
recognition and protection. The direct and associated impacts
on the quality of the AGLV will be taken into account when considering
development proposals (see in particular Policies IN3
Telecommunications and EP2 Renewable energy).
11.32 The designation includes areas mainly to the west
and north of the developed part of Torbay but also extends along
the Torquay coastal fringe from Maidencombe to Peaked Tor Cove
south of Daddyhole Cove, and includes some areas around Brixham
at Galmpton and Southdown Hill. It is vitally important that
this landscape framework be retained. The designation of AGLV
in Torbay has been the subject of a review by landscape consultants
(Leithgoe 1999). Boundaries shown on the Proposals Map reflect
those changes put forward by the Consultant and subsequently
the Council’s landscape officer, which have all been agreed
by the Council.
L3 Coastal Preservation Areas
Within Coastal Preservation Areas (CPAs),
only the following developments will be permitted:-
(1) those required for the economic and social
well being of the locality which cannot reasonably be accommodated
(2) those essential in providing public access
to the coast and informal open-air recreation;
(3) alterations and additions within the curtilage
and changes in the use of existing buildings which would make
little impact upon the character of the protected area;
(4) improvement of facilities on existing
chalet or caravan sites which would make little impact upon
the character of the protected area, and
(5) development required for the purposes
of agriculture and forestry.
Such development will only be permitted when
it would not detract from the unspoilt character and appearance
of the coastal area.
11.33 Coastal Preservation Areas (CPAs) have been identified
throughout Devon since 1966 and were essentially designated to
safeguard unspoiled stretches of coastline. Torbay is fortunate
in having 36 kilometres (23 miles) of coastline which largely
defines its landscape character. It is therefore important to
protect and enhance the scenic quality of its coastline. These
coastal areas are often overlain by other landscape designations
and are likely to be of importance to nature conservation. The
CPA runs from Torquay’s northern most boundary at Maidencombe
to Peaked Tor Cove, extending inland at various points. It also
covers most of the landscape surrounding Brixham.
11.34 CPAs are defined by a landscape that is substantially
unaffected by development and which is generally visible from
cliff tops, beaches, the sea or which forms part of the view
from the South West Coast Path or other public access / view
points. The policy is aimed at protecting this finite resource
by ensuring that development which does not need to take place
within the CPA, or would detract from the unspoilt nature of
the coast, is directed to sites outside such areas.
11.35 The CPA is related to, but should not be confused
with, the Coastal Protection Zone (Policy EP12)
which is primarily concerned with coastal management and geological
control. Much of the CPA in Torquay may also qualify as Heritage
Coast, valued for its natural unspoilt qualities.
L4 Countryside Zone
Development will not be permitted within
the Countryside Zone where this would lead to the loss of open
countryside and creation of urban sprawl, and where this would
encourage the merging of urban areas and surrounding settlements
to the detriment of their special character and setting. However,
the following forms of development will be permitted, provided
that the rural character, wildlife habitats and historic features
are not adversely affected and mitigation measures are carried
out to minimise any harm to the environment:-
(1) dwellings for which there is a proven
(2) development required for forestry, horticulture
(3) development for touring caravans and tents;
(4) tourist facilities, appropriate to the
(5) development associated with outdoor sport
(6) infill development within the existing
areas of settlements;
(7) facilities essential for the well being
of the community at large;
(8) alterations and extensions to and changes
of use of existing buildings;
(9) conversion of existing buildings;
(10) essential improvements to the highway
(11) other uses appropriate to the countryside.
11.36 The Countryside Zone has been designated for the
to view the countryside around Torbay as a finite resource
and to encourage its best use;
to safeguard Torbay from further urban sprawl;
to prevent the main urban areas of Torbay from merging
with each other and neighbouring settlements;
to preserve the special character of the towns and villages
within Torbay’s overall landscape setting;
to recognise the need to adapt to changing demands in the
countryside around Torbay and priorities for development;
to concentrate building development within the urban area
and prevent the spread of inappropriate uses into the countryside.
11.37 Torbay’s amenities and economic well being
are heavily dependent on its natural setting and the relationship
which exists between urban and rural areas. This is recognised
in the Devon Structure Plan which aims to protect the environmental
quality of Torbay in the Torbay/South-East Devon sub-region.
11.38 The countryside is a finite resource and it is important
to ensure that any further development in the countryside around
Torbay does not damage the relationship between urban and rural
areas. The Countryside Zone identifies those areas where it is
considered desirable to retain the existing rural character,
including its amenities, during the Plan period.
11.39 It is considered that new residential, commercial,
industrial or other forms of urban development which are not
provided for in the Local Plan and which require greenfield sites
would lead to unacceptable changes in the character of the Countryside
Zone. The only circumstances in which residential development
might be considered appropriate could be where individual properties
are constructed to infill within the existing village settlements,
including extensions to existing dwellings, where such development
is compatible with local character.
11.40 Any development which may be allowed in the Countryside
Zone will be required to be located and designed to minimise
impact on open countryside, and should not accentuate ribbon
or sporadic development in rural areas.
L5 Urban Landscape Protection Areas
Development will not be permitted within Urban
Landscape Protection Areas, as listed below, which would seriously
harm the value of the area as an open element within the townscape
and the contribution it makes to the quality of the urban environment.
Steps Cross, Watcombe
Mincent Hill, Barton
Clennon Lane, Barton
Scotts Bridge / Barton
Note: Part of this ULPA has been the
subject of a challenge to the High Court (see
Preface and paragraph 11.43)
Browns Bridge Road / Riviera Way
Lummaton Hill, Combe Pafford
Hele Woods / Windmill Hill Woods
Markham Plantation, Shiphay
Shiphay Manor (Girls' Grammar School)
Rowcroft / Shiphay Plantation
Chapel Hill, Torre
Stantaway Hill, Upton
Grange Road / Warberry Copse
Palace Hotel (northern edge)
Ansteys Playing Field / Palace Hotel Grounds
St. Johns Wood
Torre Abbey Meadows
Paignton Green North
paignton Green South
Monastery, Winner Hill
Primley Woods and meadow to south
Goodrington Park / Roundham, Paignton
Quay West Corner
Clennon Hill / Roselands Valley
Sugar Loaf Hill
Tor Rocks, Broadsands
Brunel Woods, Galmpton
Berry Head Road
11.41 These enclaves of special landscape quality set
in or bordering the urban areas (some of which skirt the coastal
fringe) make a considerable contribution in different ways to
the environment. Some act as local vantage points, some as amenity
open space and others as landmarks in the local scene; in some
cases they perform all three roles. Some ULPAs are also of ecological
11.42 It is important therefore that priority is given
to protecting the essential landscape features of these areas
to ensure that their contribution to the landscape of the urban
area is protected. Whilst the policy does not necessarily preclude
all developments in these locations, it will be necessary to
demonstrate that the quality of these areas is retained. In appropriate
cases, the Council will consider the preparation of management
plans to safeguard and improve such areas.
11.43 Part of L6.6 Scotts Bridge/Barton, Torquay has been
the subject of an application to the High Court under Section
287 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to challenge the
validity of the Adopted Local Plan. The challenge relates solely
to that part of the Urban Landscape Protection Area known as ‘Scotts
Meadow’, adjoining Riviera Way. A High Court Hearing will
be held in Autumn 2004. The remainder of the Local Plan is unaffected
by this challenge.
L6 Urban green spaces
Development within urban green spaces, which
are used by the community or make an important contribution to
the quality of the built environment, will only be permitted
where any harm is outweighed by the need to make the most effective
use of land within urban areas or where the green space can be
replaced elsewhere in a manner which would achieve a more effective
provision of such space.
11.44 In addition to those areas identified as ULPAs in
Policy L5, there is a need to protect the availability and distribution
of other open spaces which make an important contribution to
the amenity and character of the urban environment. Open space
is important for its contribution to the quality of urban life,
whether or not there is public access to it. It can enhance local
character and historic landscapes. Once built on, such spaces
are likely to be lost to the community forever.
11.45 The loss of such space arising from development
proposals will therefore form a material consideration in the
determination of planning applications. Whilst there is a need
to make adequate provision for development in urban areas, this
has to be balanced against the effect that any loss of open space
can have on a community. Development which would harm these sites
will be resisted unless alternative or more beneficial green
space would result either on site or elsewhere.
11.46 Urban green spaces may include public parks and
amenity areas as well as incidental open spaces which are accessible
to the public, such as areas along a public road. These areas
may be different in character from formal parks and gardens.
All these areas have significant value within the townscape. Policy
R5 in the Recreation and Leisure Chapter refers to the
protection of public open spaces and Policy BE8 in
the Built Environment Chapter to Historic Parks and Gardens.
L7 Agricultural land
Development which would result in the detriment
to or loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land (Grades
1, 2, or 3a) will only be permitted where there is an overriding
need for the development and which cannot be accommodated on
lower grade land that does not have environmental value recognised
by a statutory designation. Where development is proposed and
there is a choice between sites of different grades, development
should take place on land of the lowest grade feasible.
11.47 National policy as set out in PPG7 ‘The Countryside
- Environmental Quality and Economic and Social Development’ (revised
2001) is to protect the best and most versatile land (Grades
1, 2 or 3a). Such land in Torbay is limited. There is very little
Grade 1 land and this is concentrated mainly on the south western
fringes. Grade 2 land is slightly more plentiful and widespread
but it still represents a scarce resource which should be conserved.
When appropriate, the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency (an
executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs - Defra) will be consulted on matters that may
affect agricultural interests.
11.48 Development and changes of use which result in the
loss of high grade agricultural land will need to establish that
alternative, previously developed sites within existing developed
areas have been investigated. Where there is an over riding need
to develop on agricultural land of Grades 1, 2 or 3a and there
is a choice between sites of different grades, land of the lowest
grade should be developed unless the lower grade land has an
environmental value in terms of its landscape, nature conservation
and historic or archaeological status which outweighs its agricultural
11.49 Land quality will normally be the most important
factor in determining the impact of development on agriculture.
However, the detrimental effects of any development on local
agriculture, the proximity of other development to farms, and
whether loss of land will impact upon the viability of farms
in relation to size and structure may all be material considerations.
L8 Protection of hedgerows, woodlands and
other natural landscape features
Development will not be permitted which would
seriously harm, either directly or indirectly, hedgerows, ancient
woodlands or other natural features of significant landscape
or nature conservation value. Any development proposals which
affect such features should include mitigation measures to at
least off-set any such harm and to provide new planting and/or
11.50 Woodlands and hedgerows can form important landscape
features within the local or historic landscape and also provide
valuable habitats or wildlife corridors (Policy NC4 refers).
11.51 Woodlands, and particularly ancient woodlands, (i.e.
those dating from about 1600), form traditional elements of the
countryside or important islands of green natural habitat within
Torbay’s urban areas. Such sites have developed a wide
diversity of species and habitats through time. Once lost, this
part of our heritage cannot be replaced. Two ancient woodlands
(designated by English Heritage) have been identified in Torbay,
at Rams Hill Copse and Clennon Hill in Paignton. It is considered
there may be other areas of woodland worthy of designation. The
Council will seek to identify them and bring them to English
Nature’s notice for consideration.
11.52 Hedgerows, many of which are of traditional Devon
Bank construction, are important elements within the landscape
of Torbay. They can function as wildlife corridors linking wildlife
sites. Hedges can also form very ancient land boundaries and
may preserve historically important artefacts (archaeological
sites are referred to in Policies BE9 and BE10).
It has been estimated that in any given 30 metre stretch of hedgerow,
each shrub species represents one hundred years. A quarter of
Devon’s hedges are more than 800 years old. For these reasons,
it is important that significant hedgerows are retained and their
appropriate retention will be secured by planning conditions.
Legislation exists (Hedgerow Regulations - 1997) to enable the
Council to consider wider protection of hedgerows in rural areas.
11.53 All development proposals affecting woodlands and
other natural features of significance will be the subject of
rigorous examination and if development is permitted, mitigation
measures will be required. The Council has produced a Trees and
Woodlands Strategy which sets out policies for the management
and protection of trees as part of Torbay’s landscape.
The policies in the Strategy should be taken into account when
determining planning applications. Guidance set out in the Council’s
note ‘Trees and development’ will also be relevant.
L9 Planting and retention of trees
Development proposals likely to affect,
directly or indirectly, trees or woodlands of existing or potential
landscape value (including trees within the highway) will only
be permitted where those trees identified will not be harmed
as a result of the development and can be retained in future
through the use of planning conditions, Conservation Area legislation
or Tree Preservation Orders, as appropriate.
Any development proposals which affect such
features should include mitigation measures to at least off-set
any such harm and to provide new planting and/or suitable habitats,
including the retention and management of remaining trees and
the planting of new trees as individual specimens, as groups
or shelter belts. This planting should be protected where appropriate,
by approved management programmes, Section 106 Agreements or
use of other methods listed above.
11.54 Trees have a considerable environmental value and
are particularly important in urban areas. Not only are they
aesthetically pleasing in themselves but they can soften development,
improve the environmental quality of our streets and provide
a green framework to our towns. They can be important, both individually
and in groups. In parts of Torbay, there are whole areas where
trees are largely responsible for the character of the environment.
11.55 Although appreciation of trees is widespread, many
people are less enthusiastic about trees close to their property
where they may be seen as obstructing views, taking away light,
as well as causing maintenance problems and sometimes danger.
Development may not be permitted if it is essentially incompatible
with the retention of trees. Therefore proposals will require
careful consideration to ensure that trees which are to remain
do not cause unreasonable inconvenience to future occupiers,
leading inevitably to a request for consent to fell.
11.56 By its very nature, the carrying out of development
work can cause damage to tree roots by compaction and excavation.
In determining planning applications, it will be necessary to
ensure that construction is not carried out in close proximity
to trees in such a manner as to cause damage.
11.57 Trees will be protected by imposing conditions on
planning consents for development. These can specify measures
to be taken to protect trees during and after the building process.
Such conditions will be used whenever trees of amenity value
are adjacent to development. Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)
may also be used to safeguard the amenity value of trees and
to prevent them from being felled. They can be made on individual
trees, groups of trees or on whole areas. Torbay has a rich legacy
of trees, many of which are protected by Tree Preservation Orders
(approximately 1700 in 2004). Similar protection applies to trees
in Conservation Areas where there will generally be a presumption
against felling such trees unless there are sound reasons for
11.58 Circular 36/78 indicates that every encouragement
should be given to the planting of roadside trees and hedges
which make an important contribution in the urban and rural scene.
They can be used to create a landscape framework, soften unsightly
development and to improve the general appearance of roads. Planting
and retaining trees in our urban streets and town centres can
be particularly beneficial in some places and even a single tree
can have a considerable impact. This Circular should be read
in association with guidance set out in the DETR booklet ‘Tree
Preservation Orders - A guide to the law and good practice’.
11.59 Government guidance in relation to public highways
identifies the need to preserve existing planting and indicates
that the retention of trees together with new planting can provide
seasonal change, give shelter from wind and filter dust from
polluted air. Section 17 of the Environmental
Guide provides useful design guidance.
L10 Major development and landscaping
Planning applications for major development,
particularly on the edge of the existing built areas, will only
be permitted where necessary mitigation measures are taken to
minimise damage to the landscape. The landscaping measures should
form an integral part of the development and reflect the character
of the local landscape and distinctiveness. They are likely to
include the planting of trees as individual specimens, groups,
shelter belts or woodland for amenity, environmental and landscape
value. Appropriate measures will be taken to protect this landscaping
and the Council will seek advance planting where practicable.
Appropriate protection measures will include approved management
programmes, Section 106 Agreements or the use of planning conditions,
Conservation Area legislation or Tree Preservation Orders.
11.60 The Council has identified a number of major development
proposals that will require strategic landscaping. These primarily
comprise proposals for new employment development, as set out
in Policy E1, and for new housing schemes, identified
in Policy H1. In both instances, footnotes indicate
those sites that have a specific requirement for strategic landscaping.
However this is not an exhaustive list and the implementation
of other proposals for major development within Torbay are likely
to require consideration in the context of Policy L10,
particularly if a site lies within or near to an area which is
sensitive in terms of its environmental or landscape setting.
Proposals will be considered in accordance with Circular 36/78
which addresses how a proposed development should fit in with
retained trees. Existing landscape features of importance should
be identified and protected. Layouts may require careful adjustment
to ensure that development is not incompatible with the retention
of such features and trees and do not cause unreasonable inconvenience
to future occupiers.
11.61 An accurate site plan will be required from the
applicant showing the proposed siting of structures within the
existing contours of the ground and any proposed alterations
in ground level, in order to assist consideration of applications.
The plan should plot all existing trees, showing height and spread,
indicating those to be felled and details of trees to be retained.
Landscape plans should also show information on hard surfacing
and materials, existing and proposed tree and shrub planting,
earth mounding and site grading, the treatment of boundaries
and the location of external lighting. Areas awaiting development
should be positively managed and not allowed to become derelict.
11.62 Landscaping schemes should not view development
sites in isolation. Surveys, where appropriate, should show all
features of importance, such as Devon hedges or trees within
or adjacent to the site which could be affected by any proposals.
It is important to take account of the surrounding species, water
features and other natural characteristics which contribute to
local distinctiveness and provide habitats for existing indigenous
wildlife. Such schemes should also consider the way in which
features will develop over time. Some fast growing evergreens
can rapidly screen development but can soon reach unmanageable
heights, reducing levels of light, blocking views or creating
root damage to nearby structures. Neighbour disputes can arise
from use of this form of planting, an issue which is addressed
in the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 (Part 8 - High Hedges).
11.63 The urban fringe can be an area of conflict between
the interests of occupiers of properties, developers, agriculture
and landscape. The planting of tree belts will ensure that there
is a clear break, that appropriate screening of the development
can be achieved and neighbours protected. The future responsibility
and maintenance of such areas should also be made clear. The
careful design of landscaping which incorporates appropriate
local species and which does not conflict with nature conservation
or safety is referred to in Sections 17 and 18 of
the Environmental Guide.
11.64 The establishment of significant tree belts can
take a number of years. The Council will seek to achieve early
implementation in advance of development through Section 106
Agreements. These tree belts should form part of the overall
design in order to allow suitable areas to be set aside. In appropriate
cases, land planted in this manner may be considered for adoption
on completion of a maintenance period and payment of a commuted
11.65 Trees have a finite life and neither Tree Preservation
Orders nor planning conditions can sustain a tree beyond its
natural life span. Both, however, include requirements for replanting
of trees which have died or which have had to be felled.
11.66 Employment Policies ES, E1 and E9 refer
to the structural landscaping required in employment sites. The
requirement for strategic landscaping in less significant developments,
including hard landscaping, is set out in Policy BE2.