We were commissioned to undertake a landscape assessment and prepare a Spatial Plan for the Trust. The Plan sets out opportunities to safeguard the site and its access for the future, providing resilience to climate change, including existing coastal erosion. Experience of such assessments within nationally significant and valued landscapes informed our environmental design approach for this vulnerable coastal headland.
Our Landscape Architects undertook a spatial audit and designations mapping exercise before preparing an appraisal of the landscape and visual sensitivities of the site, which also has multiple archaeological, ecological, and landscape designations. The appraisal informed our design of potential options for relocating existing areas of parking and re-aligning the South West Coast Path and the only vehicle access away from the rapidly retreating cliffs. The project also considered the opportunities for enhancing visitor facilities in a way that would be sympathetic to the site’s special character.
Godrevy Headland is a key destination for visitors but it is subject to ongoing coastal erosion. The existing visitor and farm access road, together with the South West Coast Footpath hug the clifftop. With projected sea level rise and an increase in the frequency of storm surge events, it has become imperative to secure new access to ensure that the headland can still be reached.
The stunning natural environment of Godrevy makes it one of the National Trust’s most popular visitor destinations in Cornwall. It is a dramatic rocky headland surrounded by sandy beaches marking the north end of St Ives’ Bay. The picturesque Godrevy Lighthouse and seal colonies sit on a small island off its furthest point. The combination of special landscape qualities means that the site forms a notable component of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
It is also a special site for UK wildlife, including coastal grassland, heathland, and dune habitats, along with sheltered coves providing sanctuary to breeding Grey Seals. Parts of the headland are designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), seeking to protect its valued heath habitats. The biodiversity and valued geology are also recognised through a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designation, whilst the heritage and archaeological value give rise to a Scheduled Monument designation at the outer headland. The coastal position and topography mean that the headland can be seen across St Ives Bay.
Grounded in our understanding of the characteristics of the site, and through discussion with Trust colleagues at Godrevy, our work helped the Trust to evaluate various options for the headland. Opportunities for improved access for the general public and future management approaches to the headland were tested against the threat posed by the retreating cliffs.
Through the Spatial Plan, we identified:
The National Trust project team will seek planning consent for the selected scheme proposals from Cornwall Council. The application will include a full submission of detailed information relating to Landscape Design, Engineering, and Ecology. It will be supported by an Environmental Statement that will include a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment.
Our integrated Environmental Design services provide the ideal tools to support landowners with their site-specific climate adaption needs. Our role on this project reflects a broader spectrum of work that we provide to clients like the Trust in appraising and supporting their decision-making around land assets.
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