A Vision For The Plan

Local Development Plans in Scotland and Wales and Core Strategies in England should have a ‘pen portrait’ of the essence of the area and a vision of what the plan area’s landscape and wildlife should be like in the future.

However, in the past these have often been rather bland or anonymous, vague aspirations talking about improving biodiversity, or an area rich in wildlife, without saying anything meaningful about the plan area. These kinds of visions could be of any plan area, anywhere.

Taking a lead from the evidence base and being sure to incorporate the key issues, the plan should contain a visionary statement that includes reference to locally specific habitats and species, which is exciting and relevant. The vision should be a ‘future picture’ of something genuinely worth striving for, locally valued and place-specific. It should be a vision that genuinely shapes plan objectives and policies.

Many parts of Britain have wildlife habitats and natural features or areas which are locally distinctive in terms of both their landscapes and wildlife, such as fens, loughs, carselands or mountains. These are not necessarily designated areas, but they are distinctive, giving a sense of place and supporting habitats and species which are both typical and familiar. Referring to such places can make a vision more meaningful, locally relevant as well as more interesting.

The vision could talk about iconic species or locally distinctive habitats, such as vibrant and colourful moorlands with higher densities of breeding waders such as golden plover and birds of prey such as merlin. Or the vision could refer to clean and botanically diverse rivers and wetlands supporting more sustainable populations of fish such as salmon, more species of dragonflies and higher populations of breeding birds such as kingfishers. Or more extensive well managed semi-natural oak and birch woodlands full of bird song in the spring. The vision is not a scientific treatise, whilst it should be correct to the locality, it need not be scientifically precise, but rather it should be interesting and inspiring.

It may be a long-term vision requiring shorter and medium term pictures describing steps along the way.

Plans should be more ambitious about what can be done to enhance and manage the environment, plan for future change (including that brought about by climate change) and bring about positive change.