Incised Lowland Valley
Natural Features, Watercourses and Wetlands
- Protect and restore the natural character of watercourses and wetlands.
- Restore natural conditions to floodplains where possible as part of integrated flood storage and landscape restoration schemes.
- Fence rivers, streams and wetlands against livestock to prevent erosion and allow regeneration of bank-side vegetation.
- Create reed beds (using Common Reed or Great Reedmace) to condition mine water or sewerage discharges.
- Protect ponds from drainage or infilling. Restore former ponds and create new ponds on suitable sites.
- Establish uncultivated margins along hedgerows, woodland edges and watercourses.
- Avoid cultivation under the canopy of hedgerow and field trees.
- Maintain and enhance semi-improved or wet pastures and meadows by adopting appropriate stocking levels or cutting regimes. Avoid improvements such as drainage, ploughing and reseeding. Limit the use of fertilisers and herbicides.
- Restore diversity or wetness to improved pastures where possible – and particularly those of the floodplain and steeper bluffs – by reseeding or ditch blocking.
Trees, Woodlands and Forestry
- Protect and conserve the broadleaved woodlands of denes and gorges, river banks and floodplain bluffs.
- Remove non-native species like softwoods, sycamore and beech from replanted or modified ancient woodlands and restock using natural regeneration or planting native species of local origins. Adopt longer term restructuring plans for modified ancient woods in historic parklands, respecting designed elements and veteran trees.
- Plant new native oak and oak-birch woods in denes and ravines and along steep riverside bluffs and valley sides. Plant new native alder woods on river banks and streamsides and on wet or seasonally flooded haughs.
- Protect and maintain existing hedgerow trees. Plant new hedgerow trees (Ash, Common Oak) – and particularly on restored opencast land – or tag saplings to replace the maturing stock.
- Protect and conserve the veteran trees of parklands. Protect against physical damage, browsing and ground compaction by livestock.
- Protect archaeological features including rigg and furrow from damaging activities such as cultivation, tree planting or poaching by stock.
- Protect and conserve industrial features such as old drifts and spoil heaps, waggonways, bridges and viaducts.
- Conserve and maintain historic parklands and landmark buildings, respecting designed elements and veteran trees.
- Protect and maintain hedgerows. Renovate overgrown and gappy hedges by laying or coppicing and gapping up.
- Allow trimmed hedges to grow higher and broader. Consider trimming every second or third year rather than annually.
- Reinstate hedges where they have been replaced by fences – particularly in areas of older enclosure and on reclaimed or restored opencast land.
- Site new farm buildings close to existing buildings where possible, and reflect their scale, character and materials. Avoid steeply sloping sites.
- Reduce the impact of larger modern buildings by careful selection of colour, breaking up mass and planting screening belts of native species.
Housing and Economic Development
- Maintain the rural character of the incised lowland valleys by protecting rural areas from significant new built development.
- Screen any new development with substantial structure planting of native woodland.
- Avoid development on the floodplain. Design any essential development so that it doesn’t compromise the natural hydrology of the floodplain.
- Maintain important views of Durham Cathedral and Castle World Heritage Site
Energy, Telecommunications and Infrastructure
- Site communications masts on buildings in urban areas where possible – or close to existing buildings, tree groups or woodland edges in the open countryside. Avoid prominent local skylines and particularly the edges of denes and bluffs.
- Avoid impacts on the setting of Durham Cathedral and Castle World Heritage Site.
- Avoid ‘urban’ detailing and street lighting on country roads.
Minerals and Waste
- Avoid damage to sensitive natural landforms, mature landscape features and semi-natural habitats in selecting and operating mineral sites.
- Adopt low intervention approaches to the reclamation of former colliery and industrial land where possible to preserve the landscape’s industrial heritage and ‘brownfield’ biodiversity.
- Restore mineral workings to native oak and oak-birch woodland, lowland heath, acid and neutral grassland and wetland habitats.
Tourism and Recreation
- Tourism and recreational development should be undertaken in such a way as to avoid any urbanising influence on the landscape.
- Facilities like chalets and caravan parks should only be developed or extended where there is a high degree of year-round visual containment – either from the topography or robust woodland cover – so that they do not erode the rural character and scenic quality of the area.
- Golf course development should seek to conserve and reinforce landscape character by retaining mature landscape features and planting new native woodlands and parkland trees. Avoid prominent locations for built elements like buildings, driving ranges and ball-trap fencing. Develop species rich grassland or lowland heath in roughs to increase biodiversity.
- Equestrian facilities should be sited close to existing farm buildings where possible, and reflect their scale, character and materials. The impact of larger buildings should be reduced by careful selection of colour, breaking up mass, and planting screening belts of native woodland.
- Description of Incised Lowland Valley Landscape character
- Wear Lowlands strategy