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English Heritage reaches an important milestone in its Thames/Medway historic landscape study

An important milestone has been achieved in the English Heritage 'Hoo Peninsula Historic Landscape Project', designed to substantially increase understanding of the Hoo Peninsula's historic landscape and enable better informed inputs to the future changes envisaged for this part of the Thames Estuary.

One module of that project, the ‘Hoo Peninsula Historic Landscape and Historic Seascape Characterisation (HLC-HSC)’ has been successfully completed on time. This module focussed on identifying the dominant historical processes that have shaped the present landscape and seascape on and around the Hoo Peninsula. The HSC’s marine and maritime perspective took in such aspects as shipping routes past and present, anchorages and shell-fishing areas, but also extended onto coastal land to encompass daymarks and the previous character of land reclaimed from the sea, including early salt-making areas and coastal grazing land.

The completed module is now providing vital landscape/seascape contextual information for the wider Hoo Project's other modules and integrated report. The HLC and HSC datasets are designed to be interoperable with other map-based planning and environmental datasets. Many of those are incorporated within SeaZone HydroSpatial Topic Layers, thereby facilitating a faster and smoother application workflow for English Heritage and other prospective users.

The threads tying all of these themes together are the Thames and Medway Estuaries whose lengths adjacent to the Hoo were fully encompassed by the project's use of a comprehensive GIS-based HSC approach developed by English Heritage. SeaZone’s HydroSpatial product was identified in the Method Statement as providing many of the core data sources required to inform HSC's assessment of present seascape character. 

It was vital for English Heritage and their land and marine planning partners to have full confidence in the HSC assessments if they are play their part in informing the planning process. SeaZone's digital marine map data was used in the evidence base, underpinning the project's assessments.

SeaZone also had a detailed understanding of English Heritage’s data needs for this project. This was due in part to their role in several English Heritage national implementation projects but also due to the involvement of our Senior Marine Archaeologist, Olivia Merritt, in the development of the English Heritage HSC methodology. This project shows clearly how time-depth is embedded within the present land- and sea-scape. The importance of that for future planning has already been highlighted in Medway Council's 2011 Landscape Character Assessment Report, noting that 'this study should be considered in future landscape assessments'.  

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