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Dudley Council the historic capital of the Black Country
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Historic Landscape Characterisation

Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) is a method for understanding and mapping the landscape that we see today with reference to its historical development.

It can provide key background information and an Evidence Base for planning policies by identifying both positive and negative existing townscape and landscape elements and opportunities for future enhancement.

It includes specific detail about local character and distinctiveness, those individual historic assets contributing to it and the relative significance of those assets in relation to the historic environment as a whole. In particular it supplies a spatially expressed framework of historical understanding upon which Urban Design analysis and proposals for change and enhancement can be mapped. This enables the vision for an area to be rooted in a detailed appreciation of the historic environment and local distinctiveness.

The characterisation identifies constraints and opportunities for future development. The designation of listed buildings, locally listed buildings, conservation areas and archaeological priority areas provides certainty for the development process. Urban design principles emerging from analysis of the existing fabric will enable new developments that reunite historical elements and provide appropriate links between the historic environment and new 21st century urban landscapes.

As part of a national programme supported by English Heritage a Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) has been undertaken for the whole of the Black Country area. The study was prepared in support of the Black Country Core Strategy in 2011. The Black Country HLC analyses and records the origins and development of the modern landscape covering the areas of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. To view the document, you can find it at the Archaeology Data Service.

Historic Landscape Characterisations have been carried out within the Dudley Borough for Brierley Hill, Dudley, Stourbridge, Halesowen and the area known as the Glass Quarter. A Borough-wide survey has also been undertaken in support of the Dudley Borough Development Strategy (March 2017).

Black Country HLC

As part of a national program supported and funded by Historic England, Historic Landscape Characterization (HLC) has been undertaken for the whole of the Black Country area.

The Black Country HLC aims to be a tool in understanding the existing landscape by placing it firmly in a context of the historical development of its constituent parts. The purpose of producing this is to assist with the sensitive management of the built environment in the future and to inform the local authorities’ Black Country Core Strategy.

The level of detail contained in the Black Country HLC is intentionally broad and strategic and it is being complemented and supplemented by further 'Local Area Character Appraisals' such as the Brierley Hill Urban Historic Landscape Characterisation. These 'drill down' to the local level and seek to define in detail the distinctive character of an area and identify those historic assets which contribute to it. Future change can then be positively managed whilst conserving and enhancing local character and distinctiveness.

Borough-wide Urban HLC

In support of the Dudley Borough Development Strategy a Borough-Wide UHLC exercise was undertaken. It contains the Dudley Borough Landscape and Townscape Character Study which provides an analysis of the natural landscape of the borough in terms of geology, hydrology, topography and ecology.

This UHLC identifies 8 broad major Character Areas as follows - A491 Corridor, Limestone Ridge, Illey & Lutley, Stour Valley, Pensnett Chase, Coseley Corner, Hill & Cakemore, and Pedmore Common. The UHLC also contains a slightly more intensive assessment of the Regeneration Corridors identified in the Black Country Core Strategy, including that field work was undertaken with the overarching objective of identifying areas felt to be of high historic townscape value and landscape value. This field work also included a consideration of Archaeological Priority Areas, particularly notable heritage assets and a broad review of existing and potential Conservation Area designations. The Borough-Wide UHLC provides an up-to-date evidence base for the Dudley Borough Development Strategy and is to be used by strategic planners, urban designers, intending developers and others to gain a proper appreciation of the local character and distinctiveness of the borough.

Brierley Hill HLC

We adopted an Area Action Plan (AAP) for  Brierley Hill as part of the preparation for the Brierley Hill AAP, an Urban Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) report was produced by the Council to provide background supporting technical evidence to support the policies and strategy within the AAP document. The HLC, used in combination with the Conservation Area Character Appraisal for Brierley Hill is to be used to identify constraints and opportunities for future development in the area

Dudley HLC

We adopted an Area Action Plan (AAP) for Dudley Town Centre (March 2017). As part of the preparation for the Dudley AAP, an Urban Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) report was produced by the Council to provide background supporting technical evidence to support the policies and strategy within the AAP document. The HLC, used in combination with the Conservation Area Character Appraisals for Castle Hill and Dudley Town Centre is to be used to identify constraints and opportunities for future development in the area.

Halesowen HLC

We adopted an Area Action Plan (AAP) for Halesowen, as part of the preparation for the Halesowen AAP, an Urban Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) report was produced by the Council to provide background supporting technical evidence to support the policies and strategy within the AAP document. 

Stourbridge HLC

We adopted an Area Action Plan (AAP) for Stourbridge, as part of the preparation for the Stourbridge AAP, an Urban Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) report was produced by the Council to provide background supporting technical evidence to support the policies and strategy within the AAP document.

Area-based HLC

The Black Country HLC and the Borough-Wide UHLC are then further complemented within Dudley by a number of more detailed Historic Landscape Characterisation studies for the four principal town centre’s covered by Area Action Plans - Brierley Hill, Dudley, Stourbridge, Halesowen and the area known as the Glass Quarter.

Assessment was also undertaken in relation to the land covered by Amblecote, Audnam and parts of Wordsley where survey work supported the production of the ‘Glass Quarter’ SPD.

Glass quarter HLC

We adopted a Glass Quarter Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), as part of the preparation for the Glass Quarter SPD, an Urban Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) report was produced by the Council to provide background supporting technical evidence to support the guidance provided within the SPD.