Landscape criteria for local world


Cliffs, hidden coves, beaches, dunes, estuaries, marshes, wetlands, deltas, pine trees, footpaths, ports, fishing villages, lighthouses, fishermen's houses and shipyards are just some of the features that make the coastline a landscape imbued with architectural, cultural and environmental value.

Mass tourism has had a substantial impact on the coastline. The majority of historic towns have seen a proliferation of new buildings that have created an urban landscape that is more densely populated and higher, creating sprawling urban areas that are disconnected from the historic town centres. The original physiognomy of many seaside towns and cities has progressively changed, which has had corresponding repercussions on the aspect of the coastline. Intensive use of the beaches has also damaged the quality of the dunes along many stretches of the coast, and at certain points they have disappeared completely.

The landscape catalogues of Catalonia have defined measures that can serve as a basis for working towards the following objectives with regard to the coastline:

  • Preserving and enhancing the coastline and landmarks along the coast
  • Conserving and improving the quality of the natural landscapes that exist along the coast
  • Encouraging accessibility and helping people to enjoy the coastline
Protecting and enhancing the coastline and landmarks along the coast

Some tools and measures that municipalities can apply are as follows:

  • Maintaining the defining features of coastlines made up of historical settlements.
  • Drawing up guides including landscape criteria for building and/or remodelling coastal promenades, as well as for residential areas along the coast that do not fit in with the rest of the urban stretch (in terms of number, type of buildings, materials and colours).
  • Recovering the previous homogeneity of the coastline, where it has been lost due to the number of buildings or the low quality of the architecture.
  • Defining building criteria adapted to each section of the coastline, and to coastal towns as a whole, prioritizing the integration of architectural features that fit in with the urban context and the surrounding maritime landscape (in terms of geomorphological characteristics, buildings, etc.).
  • Avoiding the proliferation of new built continuums and making for an easier transition between urban areas and the coast.
  • Maintaining the structure of the urban landscape, formed by streams in the centres of coastal towns.
  • Maintaining and reassessing unique architectural features (lighthouses, defence towers, shipyards, fish markets, port warehouses, fishermen's houses, etc.), and other local historical landmarks along the coastline.
  • Recovering, enhancing and preserving the impressive panoramic views of the open sea, and encouraging the public to come into contact with the waterfront.
  • Promoting the integration of coastal walkways, thus reducing harder sections and encompassing the sand dunes and native vegetation.
  • Integrating ports into the urban landscape and improving connections between the port, the town, and the population in terms of how the facilities are managed.
  • Managing the consistency of the buildings scattered along the coast, including restaurants, bars, leisure facilities and public buildings.
  • Integrating the built-up stretches of the coastline by encouraging renaturing and allowing native species to return.
  • Undertaking initiatives to improve natural coastal environments, avoiding the presence of any facilities or activities that do not belong in the area.
  • Gradually removing obsolete signs and advertising, as well as commercial signage, along the entire stretch of the coastline.
Preserving and improving the existing natural landscapes along the coast

Some tools and measures that municipalities can apply are as follows:

  • Considering the possibility of reverting into non-development land all the coastal areas that, even after being classified as development land, have not yet been used for this purpose.
  • Using planning tools (such as special development plans) to safeguard sand dunes, coastal forests, wetlands, cliffs and coves, for their high environmental value.
  • Limiting features that have a high visual impact (antennas, advertising, new buildings) along the beaches, cliffs, coves, pine forests and other natural environments along the coastline.
  • Protecting the sand dunes from construction and encroaching infrastructure, while promoting proper management in order to preserve the dunes.
  • Conserving and promoting the creation of dune areas to act as pockets of the existing beach habitats, and with the aim of showing what the area used to look like.
  • Initiatives to promote land stewardship and management along coastal areas where there are dunes, coastal pine forests, wetlands, etc., with the participation of non-profit associations, the municipality and local stakeholders.
  • Using the educational potential of remarkable landscapes to raise awareness among the public of their unique nature, environmental value and fragility.
  • Developing guidelines to get to know and discover spaces and remarkable landscapes, linking them to other spaces and scenic routes in the area.
Encouraging accessibility and making it easier for people to enjoy the coastline

Some tools and measures that municipalities can apply are as follows:

  • Guaranteeing access to beaches and coastal paths along the entire coastline so that people can see and enjoy the landscape.
  • Using planning tools (such as special plans) to control access to and use of the public domain, deciding on the paths and limiting the areas where people can stand and walk, in order to protect the most fragile and delicate landscapes in the area.
  • Designing separated high walkways, adding signs that inform the public on access restrictions, and ensuring access for people with reduced mobility.
  • Consolidating the network of paths and viewpoints available to see the coastal landscapes, using the paths and routes as a base point from which to discover the urban landscape and heritage.
  • Promoting uninterrupted routes along the entire coastline, connecting sections of existing footpaths using the appropriate signage.
  • Promoting the identification and restoration of the landscape along the required sections of footpaths, encouraging reforestation with species that are native to coastal ecosystems.
  • Encouraging special landscape planning for metropolitan ports to improve relations between the port, the town and the urban population in terms of managing facilities