Benenden’s undulating ridges and valleys, peppered with irregular fields, woodland and characterful houses, create a landscape that is rich in beautiful views. These can be both far- reaching and panoramic, looking out across the Weald, or of more intimate character, connecting us to the individual features of the landscape and the activities that take place within it. They all help define the landscape we live in. The primary ridges run east to west, through the main village itself and along Goddards Green Road, loosely following original ancient routes. The height of the ridges hovers around 100m above sea level and, unsurprisingly, many of the notable views originate from these.
The Neighbourhood Development Plan’s Landscape & Environment volunteers looked to identify key views that represent the parish, and beyond. After sharing these through NDP events and various drafts of the plan, we ended up with 23 specific views to be included. One could always add more, but it is already a comparatively large number and any further additions ran the risk of making the list unwieldy and lacking the specificity required.
National Planning Policy places great weight on conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty,as well as emphasis on the historic environment. Nominating views provides a way to help encapsulate the character and beauty of the area.
In the most recent draft of the plan, there was a specific policy: Policy LE2 Distinctive Views. However, the independent examiner highlighted that distinctive views are already set out as part of Policy LE1 Protect and Enhance the Countryside, and therefore LE2 was unnecessary duplication. This change need not affect the overall effectiveness of the policy, as the appropriate wording has been incorporated within LE1.
The protection of views is not as specific as Local Green Spaces, which have a special designation within National Planning Policy. It does not prevent development which may occur within a view. However, the inclusion of the views within the development plan with an appropriate policy allows us to ensure that any development should not adversely impact a view. Whilst this is always going to be open to interpretation, it strengthens our ability to protect our beautiful surroundings.
More details, the final draft plan and the independent examiner’s report can be found on the parish council website at benendenparishcouncil.org.
NDP Steering Committee Member