Planning and development – corporate report

National Character Area profiles: data for local decision making

Natural England is improving access to environmental evidence and information through NCA profiles.

Documents

National Character Area case studies

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National Character Areas: supplementary information

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Detail

The NCA profile documents explain how you can access and use environmental evidence and information about places.

NCAs divide England into 159 distinct natural areas. Each is defined by a unique combination of landscape, biodiversity, geodiversity, history, and cultural and economic activity. Their boundaries follow natural lines in the landscape rather than administrative boundaries.

If you have a query or feedback about an NCA profile, email: ncaprofiles@naturalengland.org.uk.

Information contained in the NCA profiles

Each profile contains a description of a landscape area and details of the:

  • topography
  • geology and soils
  • rivers and coastal features
  • trees and woodland
  • field patterns and boundary features
  • agricultural uses
  • semi-natural habitats
  • species closely associated with the area
  • history of the area
  • settlement and development patterns
  • roads, railways and rights of way
  • commonly used building materials and building design
  • tranquility and remoteness

The profiles also provide:

  • the main facts and data about the area
  • information about change in the landscape
  • the main attributes of the landscape
  • assessment of provisioning, regulating and cultural ecosystem services

The statements of environmental opportunity found in each profile helps to bring together this information and offers suggestions where action can be best targeted to conserve and improve the natural environment.

Examples how NCA profiles have been used

The information in the profiles can be used in a wide range of activities, such as:

  • forming planning policies and taking planning decisions
  • sensitivity and capacity studies
  • land management plans
  • landscape and visual impact assessments
  • minerals planning
  • green infrastructure strategies and planning
  • developing Countryside Stewardship applications
  • forest and woodland plans and strategies
  • access and rights of way improvement plans
  • national park and area of outstanding natural beauty management plans

NCAs are also useful for monitoring change across the landscape.

See the case studies document (attached above) for examples of how the NCA profiles have been used.