National Character Area 84

Mid Norfolk - Key Facts & Data

Landscape and nature conservation designations section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

The Mid Norfolk NCA contains 2 ha of the Broads National Park (Natural England, 2011)


Designated nature conservation sites

The NCA includes the following statutory nature conservation designations (Natural England, Special Protection Areas; Special Area of Conservation; Ramsars; National Nature Reserves; Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Local Nature Reserves, 2021):

Please note: (i) Designated areas may overlap (ii) all figures are cut to Mean High Water Line, designations that span coastal/marine areas below this line will not be included.

Condition of designated sites
All designated sites within England are covered by Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI) units. The condition to these SSSI units within the NCA are as follows (Natural England, Sites of Special Scientific Interest Units, 2021):



Landscape and nature conservation designations map for NCA84

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Landform, geology and soils section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Elevation

Topography is variable with notably vigorous minor undulations and some flat areas. Elevation within Mid Norfolk NCA ranges from just above sea level (2m) to a maximum elevation of 96m. Generally the NCA is low lying with a mean elevation of 51m (Natural England, 2010).

Landform and process

Mid Norfolk forms a glacial till plateau, broadly flat with very little variation in height. The plateau is dissected by streams and lush pastoral river valleys particularly of the rivers Wensum and the Yare which have locally pronounced effects that create an intricately rolling landscape to the west of Norwich (Mid Norfolk Countryside Character Area description).

Bedrock geology

The bedrock geology is composed principally of Late Cretaceous Chalk, which underlies 96 per cent of the NCA area. The remainder consists of sand and gravel. During the Anglian glaciation, four hundred thousand years ago, ice sheets moving across the area deposited a layer of boulder clay up to tens of metres thick over the chalk. Fragments of chalk in the clay give a more or less calcicolous feel to the vegetation across the whole area. As the climate warmed and the ice melted, fast-flowing streams carried sands and gravels, depositing them in valleys where they can be found today (East Anglia Clay Natural Area Profile, Natural England, 2010).

Superficial deposits

Superficial deposits of gravels, sand and mixed soft clayey sediments resulting from glaciations are found throughout the NCA (East Anglian Plain Natural Area Profile).

Designated geological sites

The NCA includes the following geological sites (Natural England, Geological and Mixed Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 2021):

wdt_IDNCA_IDNAMENCAAreaHaInterest typeArea (ha) 2021Percent of NCA (2021)Count
2361NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAIN37,669.6Geological6.80.01
2371NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAIN37,669.6Mixed1,029.52.75
2382NORTHUMBERLAND SANDSTONE HILLS72,694.6Geological45.40.14
2393CHEVIOT FRINGE51,591.3Geological17.10.02
2404CHEVIOTS36,487.9Geological165.00.52
2414CHEVIOTS36,487.9Mixed3,488.99.61
2425BORDER MOORS AND FORESTS127,155.9Geological85.70.18
2435BORDER MOORS AND FORESTS127,155.9Mixed35.80.01
2446SOLWAY BASIN98,350.4Geological7.20.02
2456SOLWAY BASIN98,350.4Mixed5,569.25.74

Soils and Agriculture Classification

Soilscapes maps identify the soils to be a combination of slowly permeable seasonally wet slightly acid but base-rich loamy and clayey soils and more fertile slightly acid loamy and clayey soils with impeded drainage, found typically around the river valleys (National Soil Resources Institute Soilscapes Maps).

The main grades of agricultural land in the NCA are broken down as follows (as a proportion of total land area) (Natural England, Provisional Agricultural Land Classification, 2019):


Landform, geology and soils map for NCA84

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Key waterbodies and catchments section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Major rivers/canals

The following major rivers/canals (by length) have been identified in this NCA (Natural England, data informing the 2014 National Character Area Profiles, 2010):

wdt_IDREF_CODENAME_1NameLength (km)SumOfShape_Length
11NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAINRiver Aln7.67,587.2
21NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAINRiver Coquet5.55,516.0
31NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAINWhiteadder Water2.92,904.9
410NORTH PENNINESBlack Burn11.911,853.4
510NORTH PENNINESCroglin Water10.010,042.3
610NORTH PENNINESCrowdundle Beck4.34,337.4
710NORTH PENNINESDevil's Water20.520,464.6
810NORTH PENNINESHarwood Beck9.79,740.2
910NORTH PENNINESRiver Allen4.94,889.0
1010NORTH PENNINESRiver Derwent15.315,268.4

Please note: other significant rivers (by volume) may also occur. Tidal stretches of rivers are not included, which may include some major rivers.

Water quality

Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) are areas designated as being at risk from agricultural nitrate pollution. These can impact surface water (waterbodies and waterways located above ground) and groundwater (water bodies and waterways located below ground).

Waterbodies such as lakes can also be designated as “eutrophic waters” if the enrichment of the waterbody by nitrate pollution causes accelerated growth of algae, impacting the quality of the water and the balance of organisms within it.

The following NVZs are located within the NCA (Environment Agency, Nitrate Vulnerable Zones Designations, 2021):

Water framework directive

River basin management plans cover river basin districts and describe the challenges that threaten the water environment and how these challenges can be managed and funded. The plans include the classification of water quality of surface waters and ground waters.



Click on the Water Framework Directive layers on the below map to view the corresponding river names.

Key waterbodies and catchments map for NCA84

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Trees and woodlands section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Total woodland cover

Ancient woodland is any area that has been wooded continuously since at least 1600 AD. National Forest Inventory (NFI) woodland includes all forests and woodlands (0.5 hectares and over). The total woodland cover within the NCA is as follows (Natural England, Ancient Woodland, 2021; Forestry Commission, National Forest Inventory, 2020):

Distribution and size of woodland and trees in the landscape

Woodland is generally scattered throughout the NCA with notable aggregations occurring north of Dereham (Mid Norfolk Countryside Character Area Description, Natural England, 2010).

Woodland types

A statistical breakdown of the area and type of woodland found across the NCA is detailed below (Forestry Commission, National Forest Inventory, 2020):

Area and proportion of ancient woodland and planted ancient woodland sites (PAWS) within the NCA (Natural England, Ancient Woodland, 2021):


Trees and woodlands map for NCA84

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Boundary features and patterns

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated.

Boundary features

Boundaries within Mid Norfolk NCA area typically hedgerows but with significant areas with fencing also notable. The estimated boundary length for the NCA is 4,939km (Mid Norfolk Countryside Character Area description; Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Field patterns

Fields in general are variable in size and the 14th century small-scale and irregular enclosure has given way, in many areas, to a large, more regular pattern of 20th century rationalisation. The river valleys which have not been planted with poplars display a wide, lush pastoral landscape with water meadows (Mid Norfolk Countryside Character Area description; Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Agriculture section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

The following tables provide the most recently available statistics from Defra on agriculture within the NCA.

Farm type

The following farm types are located within this NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2016):

Farm size

The following table outlines the sizes of farms within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2021):

Farm ownership

The following table outlines the ownership of farms within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2016):

Land use

The following table outlines the types of agricultural land use within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2016):

Livestock numbers

The following livestock are farmed within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2021):

Please note: (i) Some of the Census data are estimated by Defra so may not present a precise assessment of agriculture within this area (ii) Data refers to commercial holdings only (iii) Data includes land outside of the NCA where it belongs to holdings whose centre point is recorded as being within the NCA.



Note that the below map only shows agri-environment scheme coverage, and not other schemes.

Agriculture map for NCA84

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Key habitats and species section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Habitat distribution/coverage

The river valleys contain a variety of intermingled habitats based around their rivers including wet unimproved grassland, drained grassland, arable land on the flood plain, carr woods, scrub and fens. The rivers Wensum and Nar are notified for their range of diverse aquatic plant communities (East Anglian Plain Natural Area Profile).

Key Habitats

The NCA contains the following areas of key main habitats, as mapped by the national Priority Habitat Inventory (Natural England, Priority Habitats Inventory, 2021):






Key habitats and species map for NCA84

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Settlement and development patterns section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Settlement patterns

The area has relatively few towns, but those that there are, such as East Dereham and Fakenham, form active centres with their own identity. Large villages such as Hingham and Reepham contain more facilities than usual because of their relative isolation. The nucleated pattern of settlement is seen most clearly in the area north of the Wensum, while to the south the settlement pattern consists of a cluster of villages (Mid Norfolk Countryside Character Area description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Main settlements

The main settlements in Mid Norfolk NCA are; the city of Norwich (southwestern quarter), the market town of East Dereham and in the north-west, Fakenham. The total estimated population for this NCA (derived from ONS 2001 census data) is: 169,899 (Mid Norfolk Countryside Character Area description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003; Natural England, 2012).

Local vernacular and building materials

The city of Norwich contains a mix of medieval, Georgian and modern architecture styles. Red brick and frequently black-glazed pantiled farmhouses of the early 18th century are a component of the Norfolk character. Orange and red bricks dominate pre 19th century buildings. The use of light coloured bricks Now only widely used, and then mainly in the major towns for example Fakenham and Norwich, following the spread of the rail network in the middle decades of the 19th century. Country houses built during this period, mostly in red brick, but later in white or grey brick, are also typical. Clay lump or clay ‘bat’ (large blocks of unfired clay and straw which is rendered to make it waterproof), has been commonly used for cottages, some farmhouses and farm buildings dating from the middle of the 19th century. Innate conservatism has ensured that the local vernacular style has been preserved into the 20th century, so there are few examples of later periods (Mid Norfolk Countryside Character Area description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Settlement and development patterns map for NCA84

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Key historic sites and features section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Origin of historic features

Mid Norfolk is unusually rich in medieval churches, with a particularly notable clutch in the middle of the area, near Reepham. Culturally the area has always looked to Norwich. The Saxon settlement became the major market town for East Anglia and by the Middle Ages Now the third largest town in England, after London and York (Countryside Quality Counts Draft Historic Profile, Countryside Character Area description).

Designated historic assets

The NCA includes the following designated historic assets (Historic England, National Heritage List for England, 2021):

Listed buildings

The NCA includes the following listed buildings (Historic England, National Heritage List for England, 2021):

Heritage at Risk Register

The NCA includes the following designated historic assets listed within the Heritage at Risk Register (Historic England, Heritage at Risk Register, 2023):



Key historic sites and features map for NCA84

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Recreation and access section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Public access

The following areas of public access for recreation are located within this NCA (Natural England, 2021; National Trust, 2021):


Please note: Public access areas may overlap.

The following linear routes or public access for recreation are located within this NCA (Natural England, 2021; Sustrans; 2021):

Recreation and access map for NCA84

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Experiential qualities

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated.

Tranquillity

Based on the CPRE map of tranquillity (2006) it appears that the lowest scores for tranquillity are associated with the city of Norwich, and the market towns of East Dereham, Fakenham and Watton. Disturbance can also be seen to be associated with the main transport routes linking these centres; the A47, A1065, A1067 and A1075. The highest scores for tranquillity are within the agricultural land to the north-east of the A1067 as well as to the north and south of Dereham.

A breakdown of tranquillity values for this NCA are detailed in the table below (CPRE, Tranquillity Map, 2006):

Dark skies

Light pollution is a generic term referring to artificial light that shines where it is neither wanted nor needed, and can impact on people’s experience of the countryside within the NCAs. CPRE host an interactive map, depicting the light pollution and dark skies within the NCA.

Intrusion

The 2007 Intrusion Map (CPRE) shows the extent to which rural landscapes are ‘intruded on’ from urban development, noise (primarily traffic noise), and other sources of visual and auditory intrusion. This shows that disturbance is associated with the ‘A’ roads that run through the area including the A47, A1065, A1067 and A1075. Intrusion also occurs in and around the city of Norwich and the towns of East Dereham and Fakenham. A breakdown of intrusion values for this NCA is detailed in the following table.

A breakdown of intrusion values for this NCA is detailed in the table below (CPRE, Intrusion Map, 2007):

Notable trends from the 1960s to 2007 are an increase in notably disturbed or intruded land by nearly 25 per cent which is matched by a reduction of around 26 per cent of undisturbed or un-intruded land over the same timescale.