High Weald

National planning policy requires that we should protect the countryside for the sake of its intrinsic character and beauty. This guidance helps to define the intrinsic character of historic farmsteads and how that understanding can inform their future management and use.

Key issues for High Weald Farmsteads

Conservation of Countryside Character: Dispersed Settlement

A dispersed settlement pattern, consisting of historic farmsteads and hamlets, is characteristic of the Weald and is defined as a key component of High Weald character by the AONB Management Plan. The adaptation and reuse of High Weald historic farmsteads, providing it is responsive to character and local need, may not be incompatible with their conservation. Historic farmsteads could play a role in providing some minor development opportunities, such as; affordable housing, live-work units and mixed use development in rural areas. This reuse could form a component of District sustainable housing and economic strategies, without destroying the much valued character of the AONB landscape.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development frameworks for settlements and landscapes are required to accommodate national sustainability objectives, locally distinctive characteristics and local peoples' aspirations. Sustainability criteria for dispersed-settlement landscapes have been proposed by CCRI specifically for the High Weald AONB. Recent research in the High Weald, found that more remote settlements (within the AONB) actually function more sustainably than others; i.e. they have a higher level of self-containment and shorter commutes. Sustainability in a rural context means more that just travel patterns and access to services and includes lifestyle choices and behaviours that may be influenced by the rural environment.

Related policies & guidance (update due June 2014)

* Sustainable development Communities Plan
* Climate change & renewable government energy policy
* English Heritage - Sustainable Development Strategy, 2006
* The Sustainable Development of Dispersed Settlement in the High Weald AONB

Climate Change & Renewable Energy

Historic farmsteads traditionally relied upon the surrounding landscape for raw materials and energy. Development which harnesses these local renewable resources, for example wood and wind, at an appropriate scale for local use can help to reinforce landscape character and maintain these traditional interactions.

Related policies & guidance (update due June 2014)

* UK Renewable Energy Strategy
* UK Climate Change Bill
* English Heritage - Micro Wind Energy and Traditional Buildings
* English Heritage - Energy Conservation and Traditional Buildings
* English Heritage - Small scale solar electric (photovoltaics) energy and traditional buildings
* English Heritage - Small-scale solar thermal energy and traditional buildings

Historic Farmsteads

The High Weald has one of the greatest densities of surviving, pre-1750 farm buildings. Medieval, timber-framed houses, including Wealden houses survive on a high proportion of farmsteads. Field barns were once a common feature, but over two thirds of these buildings have been lost and few are listed. Historic Farmsteads in the High Weald are being bought and redeveloped - often by being split into lots, and redeveloped as residential units. Many are subject to suburbanisation or the use of inappropriate materials, which impacts upon the character of the farmstead. Other, often smaller buildings remain derelict.

Related policies & guidance (update due June 2014)

* English Heritage - Caring for Historic Farm Buildings
* English Heritage - Living Buildings in a Living Landscape: Finding a future for traditional farm buildings
* English Heritage - The Conversion of Traditional Farm Buildings: A guide to good practice