This is a prototype website, sufficiently complete to enable the user to navigate and understand its potential. It has been developed following extensive research by English Heritage and the Countryside Agency, which resulted in new policy for managing change and the development of an evidence base. It represents an initial stage in the development of a web-based structured framework for understanding farmsteads as part of their landscape setting, and for informing future management and change, that is applicable at a national scale and is cheap to produce, amend and update. Sufficient is developed in outline form for the user to gain an understanding of its potential and provide comments on its structure, format and illustration. The stress is on the South East of England, where mapping work at a local level has been developed. Both are draft documents that will be amended further to comments received by 30 September 2008.

The Toolkit has been originated and developed by Jeremy Lake of English Heritage’s Characterisation Team. The website has been prepared and designed by Diva Arts and Fat Free Design.

Comments will be most welcome, and can be e-mailed to:

The website has been prepared and designed by Diva Arts and Fat Free Design.

Who is it for?

This Toolkit is aimed at all those with an interest in understanding farmsteads and landscapes, including communities and individual researchers, and all those involved in the planning process and land management (especially those preparing Farm Environmental Plans and Whole Farm Plans). It has been structured so that it is:

How to use it

The aim of this website is to help you understand farmsteads at a local level (Your Area), and draw down regional and national guidance as required. This guidance is consistently grouped under the following headings:

All have clear potential for development with maps, schematic illustrations and photographs, a selection of which have been provided as a ‘taster’ of what can be developed.

The section on Building Types under National Guidance is an introduction to the range of building types in the glossary, and the proposal is to have this hyper-linked in the final product. Only the historical development and timber framing sections are completed.

At present, only the South East has been developed as an illustrated region under Regional Guidance.

The Your Area section describes farmsteads for each of the national Countryside Character areas, and for the moment the user can click anywhere on the map to simulate zooming into a JCA of interest (the map will focus into Area 122: High Weald). At the next stage of development, the intention is to provide a detailed national map.

Why is it Needed?

The future maintenance of the great majority of traditional farm buildings is now dependant on a new role outside agriculture. Farmsteads make a fundamental contribution to landscape character and local distinctiveness because their character, and the patterns of settlement and landscapes around them, has been shaped by centuries of change and cultural traditions. A major change came in the 1950s with the widespread adoption of industrial-style sheds, which are essential to modern farming requirements. The restructuring of the agricultural industry means that individual buildings and whole farms have been coming forward for adaptive reuse. So-called ‘traditional’ buildings are in strongest demand for housing, and post-1950 sheds for industrial units or demolition and replacement by housing.

This pressure for change is likely to accelerate further over the next few years as global influences on farming increase. Future strategies and approaches towards re-use need to be informed by:

Future Directions

Further to more consultation, the database will be restructured and developed. This will include the completion of the Regional and National Guidance, the Glossary and any other parts that require completion of which require development as a result of consultation. In order to keep costs to a minimum at this stage, the Your Area section will then be developed so that the user can access an England map with a zoom capacity enabling drilling down to a sufficient level to determine the location of any site in relationship to its Character Area. Fully illustrated character statements can then be developed.

©2007 English Heritage