A Beautiful countryside being conserved for the future
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) are precious landscapes identified as having a distinctive character and natural beauty of such quality that it is in the nation's interest to protect them.
Almost half of the Isle of Wight has been designated by the Countryside Commission as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (189 sq km). Chalk cliffs, downland, tidal estuaries, wooded coastlines and the two Heritage Coasts are all recognised as being of special importance. These areas are protected by planning controls, practical countryside management through the AONB Project and by raising public awareness.
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are largely privately owned and continue to be "working landscapes", usually farmed. The Countryside Commission carries out its aims with regard to those who live and work in these areas and to those who visit them.
The island countryside is under great pressure but it is often the case that we only miss something when it has gone. AONB designation is a recognition that these areas are too precious to lose and aims to conserve the natural beauty of the landscape for its own sake and for future generations, as well as our own to enjoy.
Please follow the Country Code
- Enjoy the countryside and respect its life and work
- Guard against all risk of fires
- Fasten all gates
- Keep your dog under close control
- Keep to public paths across farmland
- Use gates and styles to cross fences, hedges and walls
- Leave livestock, crops and machinery alone
- Take your litter home
- Help to keep all water clean
- Protect wildlife, plants and trees
- Take special care on country roads
- Make no unnecessary noise
The World Heritage Site
Written by Dr Celia Clark for the Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust Annual Report 2008
The bid to inscribe Portsmouth Harbour, the Isle of Wight and Spithead onto UNESCO's World Heritage list as the world's first Cultural Seascape was launched to more than 150 people on 28 January 2008. The venue was the elegant modern auditorium in Boathouse 6 in the Heritage Area of Portsmouth dockyard, key to the proposal, along with its supporting establishments and supply areas. Our purpose is to increase the international profile of the area's outstanding history, focussed on naval supremacy and defence of the realm and to raise the standard of conservation and maintenance of our historic fabric - via heritage-led regeneration.
Garry Momber, director of the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology showed us evidence of human occupation in the Solent a hundred million years ago - eight metres down..Large areas of water shaped by people have not been included on the World Heritage list before. Scientific and technological innovation stimulated by the needs of national defence continues to be a feature of this area. Many important local employers and commercial enterprises on the Island and around the harbour support the bid, and presentations continue to spread the word. The five local authorities: Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight, Gosport, Fareham and Winchester now need to affirm their formal support for the bid. As mentioned last year, guidelines to applicants are still awaited from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which controls the Tentative List - from which one site a year is nominated by national government.
Work on the extensive Nomination Document describing what is of worldwide significance within the World Heritage boundary is well advanced. A detailed Management Plan on repair, maintenance and interpretation by owners of historic property and the authorities responsible for the seabed, shipping and maritime interests and the many users of the harbour and shipping lane is to follow, so that when the DCMS revise the Tentative list we have a substantial proposal to submit.
Defence buildings, particularly in the dockyard, still figure on the 2008 Heritage at Risk Register issued by English Heritage. The Grade 1 Block Mills has been reroofed, but its interior still needs major repair and a sustainable use. Fort Southwick's moat and ramparts are in poor condition; Fort Cumberland's 1747 Guardhouse leaks; No. 5 Bastion at Hilsea Lines suffers from vandalism and neglect; No.25 Store of 1782 is vacant and in fair condition and No.s 2-8 The Parade in the Naval Base is 'prone to wet rot and some structural movement', also need a new use. The East wing of the Iron and Brass Foundry is unoccupied and at risk; No. 6 Dock c.1690 is suffering from rotation and may need to be underpinned. Horse Sand fort is derelict and the roof of Spitbank Fort needs repair. Missing from the Register are Southsea Castle and the Round Tower, also in need of repair. Buckingham House and Felton House in the High Street are undergoing extensive rebuilding for conversion into a heritage hotel. An exciting discovery of another painted room in Buckingham House which may be a rare seventeenth or early eighteenth century example is to be inspected by Kathryn Davies of English Heritage, author of a new book on decorated rooms.
The Navy's objections put paid to Portsmouth Football Club's plan to plug a huge block of flats and stadium in front of The Hard. Horsea Island is their new proposed site: the stadium near the M275 with associated commercial and housing development alongside the lake with new naval diving facilities. We will press for the Section 106 agreement to finance a detailed survey of the rich archaeology of Portsmouth Harbour, which has never been thoroughly investigated. Its potential for the cultural seascape is immense. It has been actively used for shipping across the Channel for 2000 years as well as hosting a dockyard for 6-700 years, a key interface between the land and sea. The mud of the harbour is anaerobic - good at preserving material. It should yield material from the Tudor navy - the harbour is rich in timbers in the soft mud, which is dangerous to investigate, but it could be researched using Churt sub-bottom profiling which is available in Southampton. There is potential for financing a survey as planning gain for the football club's plans for Horsea Island. John Lippiett of the Mary Rose has already discussed this with Sasha Gaydamek, and we will press for the planning authority to insist that this is done. There is a precedent in Royal Clarence Yard where Berkeleys paid for Gifford's investigation of that site. The continuing loss of the city's archaeological record, only monitored by 'watching brief' half a day a week by a Southampton archaeologist is clearly not nearly enough.