National Character Area 128

South Hampshire Lowlands - 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.

16 ha of the New Forest National Park falls within the South Hampshire Lowlands NCA (Natural England, 2011).

Relationship with the coast

The adjacent coastline is covered by the following Shoreline Management Plans:

  • Selsey Bill to Hurst Spit

The adjacent coastline includes the following Marine Plan – Marine Character Areas (MCAs):

  • The Solent


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 NCA128

View Landscape and nature conservation designations map for NCA128 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

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

The South Hampshire Lowlands NCA occupies the low lying land between the Chalk outcrops of the South Downs and Hampshire Downs and Southampton Water. The highest point within the NCA is 123m above sea level (South Coast Plain and Hampshire Lowlands Natural Area Profile, Natural England, 2010).

Landform and process

The gently undulating landscape is characterised by a diversity of features and land uses which reflects changing soil types and local variations of topography. Inland of the coastal plain, the landscape is strongly influenced by the underlying Tertiary sand and clay deposits (South Coast Plain and Hampshire Lowlands Natural Area Profile).

Bedrock geology

The South Hampshire Lowlands form part of the Hampshire Basin with, to their north, the Chalk of the South Downs, which also forms Portsdown Hill. Above the Chalk here, there is a sequence of underlying and gently folded Palaeogene sands, silts and clays including the Lambeth, Thames and Bracklesham Groups demonstrating fluctuating marine, estuarine and freshwater environments ranging in age from 66 to 34 million years old. All of these were folded during the Alpine Orogeny (mountain-building episode) approximately 15 million years ago (South Coast Plain and Hampshire Lowlands Natural Area Profile).

Superficial deposits

A sequence of up to 11 different river gravel terraces, chiefly associated with the rivers Itchen and Test, reflect changes in glacial/interglacial deposition rates and phases during the Pleistocene (South Coast Plain and Hampshire Lowlands 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

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 NCA128

View Landform, geology and soils map for NCA128 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

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.

The chalk rivers of the Itchen and Test flow through the NCA and their flood plains contain some extensive areas of agriculturally unimproved grassland.

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 NCA128

View Key waterbodies and catchments map for NCA128 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

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

Predominantly mixed farmland and woodland with good amount of semi-natural ancient woodland and ancient hedgerows. The oak trees prevalent within both woodland and hedgerows give the impression of a well-wooded landscape (Countryside Quality Counts, (2003), 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 NCA128

View Trees and woodlands map for NCA128 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

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

Within the coastal plain, intensification of arable production has resulted in removal of hedges and hedgerow trees (South Hampshire Lowlands Countryside Character Area Description; Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Field patterns

The patchwork of small, intimate and irregular fields is defined by ancient hedgerows (South Hampshire Lowlands 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):

Farm labour

The following table outlines the types of farm labour 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 NCA128

View Agriculture map for NCA128 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

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

Former heathland or common, on pockets of acidic soils, are frequently used as paddocks or non-intensive grazing land. Wide, lush river valleys contain unimproved meadows and grazing marshes as well as numerous ponds (Cumbria Fells and Dales 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 NCA128

View Key habitats and species map for NCA128 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

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

Settlement in the area has a higher degree of dispersion than found on the adjacent chalk areas. In the parts of the west of the area the settlement pattern can be described as truly dispersed with no evident focus of settlement but scattered farmsteads. Elsewhere dispersed and relatively small nucleated settlements are intermixed. There is a high density of isolated farmsteads and hamlets, linked by a network of lanes with the farm building often being close to the road (South Hampshire Lowlands Countryside Character Area Description; Countryside Quality Counts, 2003)

Main settlements

The main settlements within the NCA are Southampton, Eastleigh, Waterlooville and Havant. The total estimated population for this NCA (derived from ONS 2001 census data) is 505,822 (South Hampshire Lowlands Countryside Character Area Description; Countryside Quality Counts, 2003, Natural England, 2012).

Local vernacular and building materials

Timber-framing Now typical for most buildings up to the 17th century with brick becoming common thereafter, although timber Now still employed in the construction of many farm buildings. Thatch and plain clay tiles were the typical roofing materials. The local clays were used for brick-making (South Hampshire Lowlands Countryside Character Area Description; Countryside Quality Counts)

Settlement and development patterns map for NCA128

View Settlement and development patterns map for NCA128 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

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

Wooded areas started to be cleared for the first farming about 3,000 years ago. Bronze-age barrows still exist and the Romans built a large fort (Clausentum – now part of Southampton) to protect the coast nearest to their administrative centre of Winchester. Domesday Book refers to the area as a county of rural settlements but the population rose in the 12th and 13th centuries during which time deer parks were created and more woodland cleared for farming. By the 17th century, the arable farming Now thriving and water meadows became a notable feature of the landscape. Southampton became a major port under the Saxons, declining as a result of successive Viking raids but revived in the Medieval period. Evidence for the vulnerability of the area to invasion and attack remains in the form of coastal defences from medieval to Napoleonic periods. Some historic estates survive as testament to the prosperity of the area in the modern period. The 19th century saw improvements in roads and that, plus the coming of the railway, led to an increase in towns, including seaside resorts, built largely from bricks using local clay. Urban expansion, particularly around Southampton, Eastleigh and Havant and heavy traffic on roads, especially around the M27 and M3 impact on the rural character of the NCA (Draft Historic Profile, Countryside Quality Counts, South Hampshire Lowlands 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 NCA128

View Key historic sites and features map for NCA128 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

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 NCA128

View Recreation and access map for NCA128 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

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) there are very few tranquil areas within this NCA, apart from a scattering of small patches in the north-east part where it meets the South Downs.

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 that there is virtually no undisturbed land left within the NCA other than small patches north of Fareham between the M3, A3 and the A32. 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 that the amount of undisturbed land has dropped markedly since 1960 and the amount classed as ‘urban’ rising significantly.