A landscape is your personal horizon, your own space.
We may go on holiday and experience a landscape, but on returning to the same location at a different time of year and with different company it will be a different landscape, for good or bad.
But they are not our landscapes.
A landscape can be defined, (as in the European Landscape Convention), but it is much more than a considerable amount of academic research and thus the real definition of a landscape is as complex as the human being within it.
It is a combination of all sciences, including earth and social, the emotions and elements. It is the cars, houses, rivers and trees outside our homes. It is you and what you are looking at. It is far from simple to explain or to define for each and every person.
You may be lucky to have a big garden that extends to the horizon, even if this horizon is the top of a fence or hedge, which is why gardening is so popular. You can create your landscape or get a landscaper to do it for you. The words landscape, landscaper and landscaping as verb, noun and adverb, exist in many other languages.
But whether your garden is large or non existent, your landscape is shared. For the majority of people it is shared with many other people, but for all it is shared with both natural and cultural heritage, many of the living elements within that landscape remaining hidden, yet are still a vital element of it.
To an increasing amount of people this shared landscape is an interconnection with elements that are fragile beyond our control and thus command an affection and passion to help ensure protection.
Your landscape is second only to your home in terms of belonging and often determines your home. And it can be found within a family sharing a home that the perception of the immediate landscape is very different between each family member thus creating a much more individual belonging.
The importance of planners & the planning system, landscape architects and landscape practitioners are increasingly undervalued in parallel with an increasingly more transient society.
Some have felt the need to escape this and move to less threatened landscapes, yet in doing so are responsible for changing the landscape for those that lived before them in the landscape they have moved to. The huge surge in emigration is often ignored by those analysing statistics for media commentary, but it changes the landscape. How much bigotry against immigration is actually more about the changing of a landscape than about the immigrants themselves? The invading of a country can result in the changing of a landscape, creating a pain and anger that is often ignored again by commentators and subsequently historians, such as was seen in WWII when Hitler invaded Poland.
The vast majority of people are trapped in their landscape and thus this landscape becomes of increasing importance to them. For many of these people the whims of policy makers who do not belong to their landscape creates a chasm. Combined with the transiency of modern times this is a growing problem. If the politicians themselves, let alone the planners and architects, the NGO and Quango reps, do not belong in the landscape they are charged with, how can correct policies be implemented? They can’t be.
It does not take long to become accustomed to a landscape, much less time than to fit in with the community within that landscape. To give a community the chance to make decisions about the landscape is a good thing, but without strict legal guidelines as seen in protected designated landscapes like greenbelt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, all other landscapes, those that the vast majority of English people live in, are subject to potential abuse.
And this is what is so wrong with the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). It certainly removes a drunken spider web of red tape, but within that web lay a complex set of guidance which allowed for the most holistic of reasons to be argued against development.
It could be the most sustainable of developments, but it changes someone’s landscape. The NPPF removes the existing tiny layer of understanding of landscapes completely and thus disregards every member of society who lives a life within a specific landscape.
The petition against the NPPF, organised by the National Trust, can be found here: ‘Government reforms Threaten Green Space’
The campaign and further commentary can be followed, (including from those who believe the NPPF to be a good thing), by following the hashtag #NPPF on tweeter.