High Weald

Report title:
The sustainable development of dispersed settlement in the High Weald AONB

Sustainable development of dispersed settlements

Status and date:
Complete, October 2007.

Research purpose:
 - To understand sustainable development in the context of a dispersed settlement landscape such as the High Weald. 
 - To draw examples of good practice from similar areas in Europe in order to meet objective S2 of the AONB Management Plan.

Research aim(s):
- To identify areas of dispersed settlement in Europe for which dedicated planning and/or rural development policies have been adopted
- To propose criteria that could be used to assess the sustainability of dispersed settlement landscapes in spatial planning and rural development policy.

Research findings:
A dispersed settlement pattern is a 'normal' feature of some valued historic landscapes such as the High Weald.  Such dispersed landscapes have proven their sustainability over centuries. A key finding is that an understanding of landscape character and the processes that have shaped settlement should underpin a new approach to achieving sustainable rural settlements.  It proposes a sustainable development 'framework' for spatial planning and rural development.

AONB Unit comment:
The conclusion emphasises the value of an understanding of inherited landscape character to the development of policies that foster modern sustainable rural communities. The dispersed historic settlement pattern in the High Weald is an asset, helping us achieve a sustainable future. It provides a simple but effective tool to allow government and local authorities to integrate characteristics of landscape and setting into spatial planning - enabling a more locally tailored approach to sustainable settlement planning.

Commissioned by:
High Weald AONB Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) and English Heritage

Commissioned from:
Countryside & Community Research Institute: University of Gloucestershire and the University of the West of England.

Funded by:
High Weald JAC and Interreg 111B.