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Historic Landscape Characterisation

Essex Historic Landscape Characterisation

The county of Essex is today subjected to enormous pressures from housing and transport infrastructure developments, but many historic elements can be seen to survive in the landscape. A Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) project has therefore been carried out as part of the English heritage national programme to assess the rural landscape in terms of its historic origins.

The aim of the project in Essex was to characterise the distinctive historic dimension of the current rural landscape. This has been carried out as part of, and using the methodology developed for, the East of England Regional HLC project. The regional project is sponsored by English Heritage and covers the six counties of Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, plus the unitary authorities within the region.

In Essex desk-based research using modern and historic mapping sources was carried out to identify and map the historic character of the landscape through the application of defined Historic Landscape Character types. The result of the project is a comprehensive Geographic Information System (GIS) which provides a complete coverage of the county with information on current and past landscape origins, and reports giving the background to the HLC project with an overview of the Essex Landscape and its development; a summary of the results, and a description of the methodology, database and the terminology developed in appendices. These reports will be placed on the internet and be available for download. For further information please contact

The resulting information has, in turn, formed an important element in Essex County Council's Historic Environment Characterisation projects. This complements the archaeological and historic building information to form a product designed to serve as a tool in the creation of Local Development Frameworks by Local Government Planners. Many of these are on the internet: