7.2.1 Chapter 8: Landscape, Townscape and Visual Resources of the PEIR describes and assesses the existing landscape and townscape character and views of the Project site and study area. This includes the character and features of the landscape and townscape and the changes as a result of the Project during construction and operation, during the daytime and at night. In addition, it considers the potential visual effects as a result of the Project.
7.2.2 As a matter of best practice, the assessment has been undertaken based on the relevant guidance on landscape and visual assessment within the Landscape Institute and Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment ‘Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment’ 3rd Edition.
7.2.3 A Zone of Theoretical Visibility of the Project has been generated to establish the 5 km radius study area to ensure that all receptors that may experience significant effects are included. Baseline analysis work has been undertaken to identify the existing townscape character of the site, the adjacent townscape of Horley and the landscape of Surrey and West Sussex and their condition, value and sensitivity to change. The assessment has made reference to published landscape and townscape assessments.
7.2.4 A separate, larger study area has been established to coincide with overflying aircraft at height profiles up to 7,000 feet above ground level to address effects on landscape tranquillity and visual receptors within nationally designated landscapes including the High Weald, Surrey Hills and Kent Downs Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the South Downs National Park.
7.2.5 Baseline field work, including site surveys, has been undertaken to confirm the people that are likely to have views of the Project. Representative viewpoints have been used to assess the potential visual impacts of the Project on the different range of views within or towards the Project site. Further viewpoints will be identified and added to the assessment process, as required in consultation with local authorities and Natural England.
7.2.6 Due to the scale and nature of development at Gatwick Airport, the airport forms its own distinctive and well-defined urban townscape within the wider Low Weald landscape that is not separately defined in published character assessments (see figure below). Gatwick Airport occupies the majority of land within the Project site boundary with smaller areas of farmland and open space beyond the current airport boundary. The majority of the land within the site is flat and open. The main built form is located at the North Terminal and South Terminal clusters. Rural landscapes of the Open Weald lie to the north, the Upper Mole Farmlands to the west and south, the High Woodland Fringes to the east and the Low Weald around Horley to the north east. Four areas of ancient woodland are located within the Project site, including Horleyland Wood and Brockley Wood. There are no designated landscapes that lie within the Project site. The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty lies approximately 3 km to the south east.
7.2.7 The site is currently not visible in views from most parts of Crawley and Horley due to intervening vegetation or development. Views from the surrounding rural landscapes are generally screened by intervening vegetation. Key people likely to have views of the Project include:
7.2.8 A number of measures have been designed into the Project to reduce the potential for impacts on landscape, townscape and views including:
7.2.9 Due to the largely urban character of the airport within the Project site, its redevelopment would result in the removal of a limited number of important landscape or townscape features. New buildings and infrastructure would form an intensification of the existing character of the airport and neighbouring settlements of Crawley and Horley. Development of currently undeveloped land within the airport would have a greater impact on the character of more sensitive areas.
7.2.10 In terms of landscape effects, major adverse and significant effects on Pentagon Field are predicted during all phases of the Project (due to the development of Pentagon Field and change in character from pastureland to decked car park). These effects would be very limited in extent (arising as a result of the change in the landscape character of the field itself). The effects on the wider Gatwick Airport Urban Character Area would not be significant.
7.2.11 Significant adverse effects on surrounding landscape character areas within the study area are unlikely as the airport context would remain largely similar and screening provided by existing vegetation, built development and earth mounds would remain or would be replaced as party of the Project.
7.2.12 In terms of cumulative effects, the Project has the potential to contribute to significant effects on the High Woodlands Fringes, Upper Mole Farmlands, Low Weald and Mole Valley Open Weald Character Areas. By 2033 and during 2038, the effect on the Low Weald Character Area would reduce such that it would not be significant, whilst the effect on the Mole Valley Open Weald and High Woodlands Fringes Character Areas would reduce such that cumulative effects would not be significant, while the effect on the High Woodlands Fringes and Upper Mole Farmlands Character Areas would remain significant. However, the Project (specifically the decked car park at Pentagon Field and A23 improvements in this case), would, on balance, make a negligible contribution to this cumulative effect due to the comparatively large scale and extent of the other proposed cumulative developments.
7.2.13 There are likely to be very few people who would experience significant adverse effects as a result of the Project.
7.2.14 During construction, some temporary significant effects on views are possible. Major adverse and significant effects are predicted for walkers using the public right of way at Pentagon Field and pedestrians using Balcombe Road during the initial construction phase (2024-2029) and in the first period of operation (2030-2032) before mitigation planting has matured.
7.2.15 Occupiers of the Hilton Hotel would experience moderate to major adverse visual effects between 2030 to 2032 due to temporary construction effects.
7.2.16 No other effects on visual amenity would be significant. The operational elements of the Project and the construction activities described above would be visible to members of Gatwick staff working in different locations within the airport or using staff car parks and internal access roads. The activities and developments may be barely perceptible when seen at distance, or prominent and at times dominant when in close proximity. This would result in effects that would not be significant due to the established airport development. No significant permanent visual effects are predicted, once new vegetation has matured.
7.2.17 No significant cumulative visual effects on visual receptors previously identified in Chapter 8: Landscape, Townscape and Visual Resources are predicted based on the information available to date.
7.2.18 It is anticipated that there would be up to a 20% increase in the number of overflying aircraft at less than 7,000 feet above ground level. This increase is most likely in areas currently overflown by the largest number of aircraft. This change may be discernible to some people or barely perceptible to others, due to the existing conditions. The change to the existing level of tranquillity within the nationally designated landscapes within the study area would not be significant.