Home Parish Council Planning Matters Mendip District Character Assessment

Mendip District Character Assessment

The Mendip District encompasses an extensive tract of attractive and varied countryside including parts of two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. To the west of the district the landscapes change dramatically from the high Mendip Hills down to the Somerset Levels and Moors. More subtle variations in the character of the landscapes are seen in the hills and valleys of the east Mendip area.

All these areas reflect a long history of human activity and an even longer geological story. Within the hills the early exploitation of minerals and stone shaped settlement patterns and the appearance of certain landscapes. On the moors the evidence of early occupation has been revealed through peat extraction and the same industry has left areas now being dramatically recolonised by nature. By contrast farming and forestry practice have quietly created a framework of managed landscape that reflect many generations of work.

Variations in landscape character are mapped across the entire country and described at both regional and local level. Landscape Character Assessments are used as an important part of the planning system and can assist with many aspects of countryside management. The larger scale character areas are described through the National Character Area Profiles. A character assessment for Mendip District was previously undertaken in 1996. This website provides the updated assessment undertaken on behalf of MDC in 2019/2020.

The assessment provides information on the many different aspects of how the landscape has evolved and how it may now be appreciated. The area includes a complex pattern of geology and topography which are a fundamental part of the Mendip landscape story. The study provides an overview of the area in the sub regional context and illustrates how the district landscapes relate to the National Area Profiles and adjoining district areas.

The study includes a district wide description of the landscape in terms of the underlying geology, and topography, archaeology and historic landscapes, patterns of vegetation, agriculture and habitat along with modern land use, development and infrastructure. Within this section the emerging pattern of renewable energy developments across the district is mapped and discussed.

The district wide assessment includes reference to how the Mendip Landscapes may be perceived through cultural heritage, literature and art alongside the recreational function of the local countryside. Perceptions of tranquillity and the extent of dark skies across the area are mapped and discussed along with the distribution of views, viewpoints and landmarks.

Within the character assessment the district is subdivided into 8 main types of landscape and then into 56 individual character areas. This website provides an interactive map of these and larger scale maps of each main type.

The concluding sections of the study set out consideration of how the Mendip landscapes may be seen as a valued resource and the potential issues influencing future change and policy.

As additional resources to accompany the main study this website provides access to a Data Base of landscape assets, a photographic collection, advice on Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment along with further links to additional information.

The character assessment was published as a draft study for consultation. Comments were received from stakeholders and the public and taken into account for this final version study updated in October 2021.

To read the character assessments, go to https://macgregorsmith.co.uk/mendip/landscape-types.html

30 July 2023
Last Updated
5 March 2024