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Extracts from Canterbury Landscape Appraisal - November 1998
2.8 Nackington Farmlands

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  2.8 Nackington Farmlands

Landscape Description

The Nackington Farmlands are a local subdivision of the extensive East Kent Arable Belt. This landscape is formed where the chalk dipslope of the North Downs diminishes. The underlying geology of this area is Upper Chalk overlain in places with River Gravel Drift. There is a very gently rolling topography with dry valleys reaching northwards towards the City.

The deep calcareous fine silty soils In the valley bottoms are easy to work and consequently this area is intensively farmed. Cereals are generally the main crop in the dry valleys. Some top fruit is grown but this tends to be less productive in the valley bottoms. Typically there are large arable fields broken by groups of parkland trees. Hops and orchards have generally been lost to arable although remnant shelterbelts are still occasionally apparent. The agricultural land classification is predominately Grade 2. There are some local pockets of Grade I where the soils are deeper in the valley bottoms close to the City and other areas of Grade 3 where the soils start to thin as the dipslope rises to the south.

The name Nackington is believed to derive from 'Nating dun' which is Old English for Nata's Hill and was first recorded in 993 AD. Nackington itself is a remarkably unspoilt 19th century agricultural village with very little 20th century building. The farmlands around Nackington mostly originate from the '18th and early 19th centuries with many of the farm and estate buildings dating from this period.

A small area of remnant parkland characterised by mature beech and ash in pasture abuts Nackington Road. This is a remnant from Nackington House that occupied this site until it was demolished after the First World War. The house dated from the reign of Charles I and in 1796 Jane Austen noted in her diary that she had "died at Nackington, returned by moonlight, and everything in stile'. By the 1880s the



holding comprised of farms. woodlands and 18 acres of gardens. These gardens were developed by Margaret Helen Waterfield whose family resided here until the house was occupied by soldiers in 1914. The house fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1919. Groups of parkland trees are still found within the large arable fields to the west of Nackington Road and large detached properties with mature gardens have been built on the former park and garden land along Nackington Road. These give this area a suburban feel.

There is also same ribbon development along the New House Lane and lffin Lane. However, despite the proximity to the City the agricultural landscape dominates.

Views of the City

To the south of the A2 there are good views along the open arable dry valleys of the North Downs dipslope towards the City and the Cathedral, particularly from New House Lane and Iffin Lane. Bell Harry Tower creates a powerful focal point that distracts the eye away from the more intrusive elements in the view. Also dominant in these views are the water tower on higher ground to the west at Neal's Place, the gasholder at Wincheap and the chimney at the Kent & Canterbury Hospital.

The Cathedral can also be seen from the A2 across the arable landscape particularly in winter. This is one of the few views for passing motorists and as such the Cathedral is a notable landmark when travelling across the county. The A2 itself is in deep cutting and therefore is largely hidden from the wider views.

  Key Characteristics

  • Gently rolling landscape with broad dry valleys reaching towards the City.


  • Simple, smooth open arable landscape.


  • Grade 2 agricultural land with deep, calcareous soils intensively farmed for cereals.


  • Settlement focused higher ground along roads and former trackways located on ridges.


  • Remnant shelterbelts, parkland trees and hedgerows.


  • 18th and early 19th Century farmsteads and remnants of former estates.
  Views of the City

  • Views along dry valleys of the City and in particular of Bell Harry Tower.

  • Views often softened by vegetation at the urban edge.


Condition

The scale, topography and simplicity of this open arable land creates a coherent landscape despite the lack of enclosure pattern. There are very few detracting features. Occasional telegraph pores and pylons march across the open landscape and there are some urban fringe influences. These are generally limited to small field parcels around Wincheap and the area of landfill by Stuppington Lane. The rough pasture in these areas and the irregular topography of the landfill contrasts to the otherwise smooth landscape. The A2 cuts across the landscape to the south. However overall the Nackington Farmlands are considered to be a unified landscape.

The ecological integrity of this area is low. There are only a few areas of semi-natural habitat and these are limited in te clusters of native vegetation and fragmented hedgerows, usually associated with roads. Most of the area is intensively managed for arable crops. Tree cover is poor although there are some remnant parkland trees within arable fields and mature trees associated with housing, These tend to be even aged and in decline.

Older buildings are farmsteads and remnants of estate properties. These are typically of a soft coloured red brick and tile construction. Large detached suburban houses are built on the former park and garden land bf Nackington House in a modern traditional style. Post war housing has developed along Iffin Lane and New House Lane. Recent housing on the edges of the urban area around Nackington Road breaks up traditional enclosure boundaries.

The Nackington Farmlands can be described as in moderate condition. Despite its modification by changes in agricultural practice and its relatively low ecological interest this has to be balanced against the visual unity of the open landscape.

Sensitivity

The Nackington Farmlands is a simple landscape with few distinctive features. Its character is derived from the scale and consistency of the landscape and although reasonably attractive the strength of character is considered to be weak. The North Downs dip slope is llkely to have been cleared of woodland for many centuries, however more recent loss of enclosure has been no doubt partly due to increased arable intensification.


The limited tree cover and the broad open topography creates a highly visible landscape. Balancing this high visibility against the weak strength of character results in a landscape of moderate sensitivity.


The limited tree cover and the broad open topography creates a highly visible landscape. Balancing this high visibility against the weak strength of character results in a landscape of moderate sensitivity. The landscape is most sensitive where it is most open, such as within the dry valleys where the introduction of new features would be most visible.



Guidelines

Guidelines that are appropriate to the Nackington Farmlands are those that encourage the restoration and improvement of the landscape
  • Conserve the open character of the dry valleys and views of City.


  • Improve the quality and number of features associated with residual parkland at Nackington House


  • Improve the definition of and strengthen the boundary with the urban edge respecting the contribution from the traditional field pattern.


  • Conserve the sense of scale avoiding separation and further subdivision of field parcels


  • Improve the quality of the existing boundaries.


  • Improve the continuity of the green link afforded by the disused Elham Valley Railway.


  • Resist the introduction of contrasting visual elements such as pylons, telecommunications masts etc.
  Summary of Analysis


  Condition: Moderate
  Pattern of elements           coherent
  Detracting features           very few
  Visual unity                        unified
  Cultural integrity                modified
  Ecological integrity           weak
  Functional integrity           weak


  Sensitivity: Moderate
  Distinctiveness                   distinct
  Consistency of pattern      v.distinct
  Distinctive features            few
  Continuity                            recent
  Strength of character         weak
  Landform                             apparent
  Extent of tree cover            open
  Visibility                               high



  Guidelines:
  Conserve and improve

  Scope for change within certain
  constraints.

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