Landscape Planning and Change

The beautiful landscapes we see today have been shaped by thousands of years of human activity with the environment. Impressive geological formations and natural processes have created landforms which people have helped shape into distinctive landscapes. Farming, forestry, and local industries have all left their mark, giving a unique sense of place and character to our countryside. Many of the patterns and features of past use have survived through centuries of change. Into the 21st century, the pace of social, economic and environmental change is increasing. Without careful planning and management, the quality and condition of the landscape could irreversibly decline.

Landscape Character Assessment

The Landscape Character Assessment is an important resource for the National Landscape Partnership, planners and communities to understand the qualities of different landscapes, the condition of these landscapes and the pressures for change.

You can find out about the landscape character of your area using the interactive map and resources available in our Resource Library >

For more information about our landscape planning and assessment work, contact Richard Brown Landscape Planning Officer, Dorset National Landscape


If you think about what constitutes a tranquil scene, you’re likely to be thinking of a very naturalistic landscape with little evidence of modern industry. Woodlands, flower-rich grasslands, birdsong, babbling streams and the sussuration of waves on the beach are frequently imagined.

Poole Harbour (c) Sue Macpherson ARPS

Why is Tranquillity important?

Tranquillity is a landscape quality from which we get a lot of benefit: that sense of relaxation, recuperation and recovery in the countryside is related to it. In the busy modern world, National Landscapes and National Parks have important reserves of tranquillity that could improve all of our lives. Our understanding of tranquillity informs our planning and conservation work so that we can help ensure this National Landscape is a place rich in it.

Research into Tranquillity

We’ve worked extensively with researchers at the University of Winchester to develop our understanding of what tranquillity means to people and found that what we can see has a greater bearing on our experience of tranquillity than what we can hear. This may seem obvious, but national policy for conserving tranquillity is often interpreted solely as a noise issue.

The initial research collected over 10,000 opinions on tranquillity from over 800 participants, using Purbeck as the study area. This was modelled as a map for that area. Further research work has developed a tranquillity model for the whole county. This has enabled us to examine different scenarios, from urban expansion to radically recovering nature. It comes as no surprise that the latter would significantly enhance our experience of tranquillity in the landscape.

Visit the University of Winchester website to find out more about this research