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Basingstoke’s countryside next door is also ‘Valued Landscape’

1st March 2021

A team of experienced planning volunteers from CPRE Hampshire, the countryside charity, have carried out an assessment of the area of land proposed by Portsmouth Estates to contain a development of at least 2,500 homes, ‘Upper Swallick’, and concluded that it is countryside and green space of such high quality as to qualify as ‘Valued Landscape’, which should require it to be protected.

CPRE Hampshire considers that the 296 hectares (over 730 acres) of land to the south east of Basingstoke and south of the village of Cliddesden is a Valued Landscape and an essential part of a tract of Valued Landscape extending north-eastwards from Farleigh Wallop to the Grade 1 listed Hackwood Park. Additionally, the area sits within a larger tract of downland landscape stretching from the M3 to Farnham – the North Hampshire Downs.

CPRE Hampshire volunteers have made their assessment in the context of a National Planning Policy Framework Valued Landscape which should be protected according to national planning guidance. Their assessment highlights:

  • The attractive and distinctive chalk downland landscape with high quality views from many points to a clearly defined ridgeline, and long-distance views over Basingstoke
  • The lack of development and overall sense of tranquillity
  • The high-quality public experience of this landscape from public and permissive rights of way – cyclists, walkers and runners from Basingstoke and further afield make regular use of the lanes and public rights of way
  • The contribution this landscape makes to the landscape setting of Basingstoke and views from the built-up area
  • The important contribution of this tract of landscape to the characteristics of the Basingstoke Open Downs and Basingstoke Down identified in Hampshire County Council’s and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s own assessments

Christopher Napier of CPRE Hampshire says, ‘Landscapes play a vital role in tackling the climate emergency by capturing carbon, cleaning the air, helping to slow flood waters and providing habitats for wildlife. As a feature of open countryside and green space, they are also important to people’s health and wellbeing, something that has been proved during the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Planning Policy Framework sets out that planning policies and decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by protecting and enhancing Valued Landscapes. We strongly advocate that all local planning authorities in Hampshire carry out landscape assessments in the process of revising their Local Plans. This would ensure that where they exist, they are protected in Local Plans for current and future generations.

CPRE Hampshire’s assessment work highlights the importance of considering new development in terms of landscape suitability and the setting of the natural environment.’

CPRE Hampshire has submitted its landscape assessment to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s planning department, and you can view it here.

Local campaigners, STaNHD – Stand up for North Hampshire Downs are heading towards 7,500 signatures on their petition to protect this beautiful and special area of Hampshire downland.

Volunteers from CPRE Hampshire carrying out their landscape assessment with a member of Cliddesden Parish Council showing them around Dee Haas