Last edited 12 Jan 2021


The term ‘townscape’ refers very broadly to the overall character and composition of a town (or other aspects of the built environment). It can include the range and quality of buildings in an area, the relationships between those buildings and the different types of space between and around them, and reflects the relationship between people and place.

The term 'cityscape' can be given a similar definition.

Townscape may be assessed as part of a townscape character assessment.

Townscape character refers to '...distinct, recognisable and consistent pattern of elements in the built environment that makes one landscape different from another, rather than better or worse.' Ref TIN 05/2017

Landscape Institute Technical Information Note TIN 05/2017 explains how to apply the principles and general approach of landscape character assessment to townscape character assessment. Ref

The Technical Information Note suggests that: ‘The term townscape first came into popular use in the UK in the 1940’s and 1950’s, when there was a concern amongst some architectural critics that the identity of our villages, towns and cities was being eroded by poorly planned post-war reconstruction. They derived their definitions of townscape from the Roman “genius loci”, which translates as “the prevailing character or atmosphere of a place”.’

Townscape Character Areas (TCAs) are discrete geographical areas of a particular townscape type.

Townscape Character Types (TCTs) are generic, distinct townscape types that are relatively homogeneous in character. They may occur in different parts of the country, but share broadly similar combinations of geology, topography, drainage patterns, vegetation and historical land use and settlement pattern, and perceptual and aesthetic attributes.

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