National Character Area 72

Mease/Sence Lowlands - Analysis: Landscape Attributes & Opportunities

Analysis supporting Statements of Environmental Opportunity

The following analysis section focuses on the landscape attributes and opportunities for this NCA.

Further analysis on ecosytem services for this NCA is contained in the Analysis: Ecosytem Services section.

Landscape attributes

A gently rolling strongly rural agricultural and largely tranquil landscape of low hills with flat river valleys.

Justification for selection:

  • The rural area is divided occasionally by low hills and sandstone ridges.
  • From within the area there are views over the well-ordered landscape of open farmland and valleys.
  • Elevated areas are often capped by villages and church spires emphasising their visual prominence.
  • The slight rise in landform topped by small woodlands varies between feeling remote and being self- contained.
  • The undulating landform and the sediments it is formed of, provide evidence of the history of development of this landscape.
  • A well-ordered landscape of open views and quiet remote rural character with significant areas of tranquillity between small villages and farmsteads but it is experiencing increasing pressure to accommodate development associated with the expansion of Burton, Nuneaton, Hinckley and Tamworth, which with increased road usage along major routes cutting across the NCA, is disturbing tranquillity.

Woodland cover generally limited to landscaped parklands, coverts, spinneys and scattered hedge- row trees. In the north of the area, The National Forest initiative is increasing woodland planting.

Justification for selection:

  • The area is generally not well wooded covering only 5 per cent of the NCA but this is increasing particularly within The National Forest in the north of this NCA.
  • Woodland cover is mainly confined to small copses and spinneys on the clay ridges giving the character of an open landscape with some woodland.
  • Ancient woodland with oak and ash supports important indicator species.
  • Landscaped parklands are an important feature of the NCA which have been dramatically decreasing and associated veteran trees have declined. Wooded areas on estates are also associated with historic parkland and have often been associated with shooting on such estates.
  • The fields are generally open with low hedges and hedgerow trees, and woodland edges and copses.
  • A variety of woodlands support breeding birds and mammal communities.

A highly productive commercial agricultural landscape, predominantly of arable crops with some permanent pasture.

Justification for selection:

  • The area has fertile soils on the mudstones and much of the area is arable, with higher ground in particular favouring permanent pasture.
  • The area has a history of livestock farming but there has been a move away from pasture to arable, with the permanent pasture limited to less productive soils.
  • The farmed landscape provides a variety of habitat types; neutral grassland, hedges, hedgerow trees and streams and farm ponds.
  • The fields are generally open with low hedges and hedgerow trees, and woodland edges and copses.
  • Woodland is primarily found on the less productive soils but areas of arable have been planted within The National Forest.

Historic field patterns, landscape designed parklands and fine examples of country houses, spired churches, small nucleated villages on higher ground with dispersed red-brick farmsteads, enclosed rural lanes with wide verges, areas of ridge and furrow and deserted settlements and a range of other historic and archaeological fea- tures, including the Ashby and Coventry canals.

Justification for selection:

  • The parklands are an important feature of the NCA and have been dramatically decreasing and associated veteran trees have declined. Wooded areas on estates are also associated with the historic parkland.
  • With increased urban development associated with larger settlements on the periphery, the importance of maintaining the rural settlement pattern increases, contributing to the area’s sense of place.
  • The red brick and Staffordshire tiles and pantiles provide a strong local vernacular to buildings.
  • The narrow winding lanes linking small nucleated villages and remnant ridge and furrow are particularly significant in contributing to historic character.
  • Hedgerows enclose a regular field pattern. There is evidence of parliamentary enclosure and some early enclosures.

The area includes a network of several rivers and streams and wetland habitats. The Ashby Canal and Coventry Canal are also important features of standing water.

Justification for selection:

  • The many rivers and streams strongly contribute to a traditionally characteristic riverine landscape that is also important for supporting associated wetland habitat. They include the rivers Anker, Sence and Mease and a small section of the Trent.
  • The River Mease is an important designated nature conservation site of SAC and SSSI importance for habitats and includes protected species such as otters and water voles and internationally important populations of white-clawed crayfish, spined loach and bullhead fish.
  • Wet flood plain grazing marsh is very important along the Trent accounting for 346 ha.
  • These wetland habitats support some important plants species and are important for breeding birds.
  • Alder and willow are features of wooded areas along watercourses.

Landscape opportunities

  • Protect the overall quiet rural open character of much of this lowland landscape including views of historic church spires which are strong visual features in the landscape. Protect the traditional red brick vernacular and the settlement pattern of the small nucleated villages, and the winding roads with wide grass verges that connect them.
  • Protect from damage and appropriately manage the area’s historic landscape features such as its ancient oak ash woodland, the Ashby Canal and the Coventry Canal, the landscaped parkland estates and their
  • veteran trees and fine country houses, areas of ridge and furrow, deserted settlements and characteristic hedgerow boundaries
  • Protect the rivers Mease, Sence and Anker with their associated streams and tributaries as important landscape and nature conservation features. Protect and appropriately manage their wet woodlands and other associated wetland habitats that are characteristic of this lowland landscape.
  • Plan to accommodate development pressure from the expansion of Tamworth, Atherstone, Nuneaton, Hinckley and Burton-upon-Trent by designing a network of multi-functional green infrastructure which respects the surrounding landscape character of these areas and which provides for links out into the wider countryside and increased opportunities for people, nature and wildlife.
  • Plan for improved management of parkland areas and their associated features and habitats. Ensure local landscape character is respected and enhanced. Maintain and restore habitats in accordance with biodiversity action plans and heritage conservation management plans.
  • Manage arable cropping patterns to encourage rarer arable plants and farmland birds/mammals following appropriate management under Environmental and Countryside Stewardship agreements.
  • Manage watercourses to enhance wildlife value, while restoring associated wetland habitats and grazing flood plains. Manage willow trees along watercourses appropriately through pollarding to increase their longevity.
  • Manage through Environmental and Countryside Stewardship, the restoration of hedgerows and replace hedgerow trees, forming a predominantly regular field pattern.
  • Manage and conserve all ancient semi-natural and broadleaved woodland, taking appropriate opportunities to increase small-scale woodland coverage where this enhances landscape character and maintains wider open views which are characteristic of this area.