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

Considerable progress has been made by Dudley Council in achieving a fuller analysis and understanding of the local character and distinctiveness of the borough by using historic landscape characterisation (HLC) principles. HLCs 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, Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) was been undertaken for the whole of the Black Country area in 2009. The study was prepared in support of the Black Country Core Strategy, published 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. In 2019 this work was further expanded upon with the publication of the Black Country Historic Landscape Characterisation Study which was prepared in support of the emerging Black Country Plan.

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).