Preprint Article Version 1 This version not peer reviewed

Defining the West of England’s Genius Loci: ‘Land of Limestone and Levels’ to Lateral Thinking

Version 1 : Received: 28 August 2017 / Approved: 29 August 2017 / Online: 29 August 2017 (03:42:37 CEST)

How to cite: Garland, L.; Wells, M.. Defining the West of England’s Genius Loci: ‘Land of Limestone and Levels’ to Lateral Thinking. Preprints 2017, 2017080100 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201708.0100.v1). Garland, L.; Wells, M.. Defining the West of England’s Genius Loci: ‘Land of Limestone and Levels’ to Lateral Thinking. Preprints 2017, 2017080100 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201708.0100.v1).

Abstract

The County of Avon in England was abolished in 1996 and replaced by four unitary planning authorities. Recently the authorities have been working closely to develop a West of England Joint Spatial Plan to facilitate better integration of policies on transport, housing, the environment etc. The Joint Spatial Plan team commissioned a multidisciplinary study to investigate whether the West of England has special characteristics of 'place' that engender shared interest and regional affinity, i.e. ‘sense of place’, to which emerging planning policies might positively respond. In this regard the present article is particularly focused on identifying whether the West of England has unique and unifying landscape characteristics, relating to topography, rural scenery, and flora and fauna, which combine with human experiences to distinguish the Region from adjoining areas. It is concluded that the West of England does indeed have real geographical integrity, being bound on all sides by attractive and prominent landscape features - the Mendip Hills, Cotswold Hills and Severn Estuary – that contribute to a sense of identity and belonging among its inhabitants. The alternating limestone ridges and broad clay vales that prevail across the Region’s heart, combined with low lying flatlands on the Region’s western fringe, provide further contrast with neighbouring regions, reinforcing the emotional bond to the landscape. Furthermore, it is suggested that the inhabitants of the West England show a particularly special environmental consciousness that sets them apart from neighbouring populations, complementing the influence of the physical environment in making the Region a special place to live.

Subject Areas

Genius Loci; place-making; landscape; Land of Limestone and Levels; West of England; Mendip Hills; Cotswold Hills; Bristol, Bath; environmental psyche; Severn Estuary

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