The "character-based approach" approach is descriptive and not an additional layer of countryside protection. At a national level this originally took the form of a "Joint Character Map" published by the Countryside Commission and English Nature in 1996. See below for related link.
The focus is on identifying the local character of different areas without making judgements about their relative quality. This differs from previous "qualitative" approaches that supplemented nationally designated landscapes (National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) with local designations such as "Areas of Great Landscape Value" or "Special Landscape Areas".
The emphasis on "character" is intended to ensure that local distinctiveness and sense of place is properly understood. The character approach should help in accommodating necessary change without sacrificing local character. It can help ensure that development respects or enhances the distinctive character of the land and the built environment. Taking this approach a step further involves using the landscape assessment as a context for a "Countryside Design Summary" (as originally advocated by the Countryside Commission in 1996) and this can in turn be a context for Village Design Statements.
Policy D14 in the Sedgemoor Core Strategy seeks to protect against adverse impacts on landscape character due to new development, and the Sedgemoor Landscape Assessment and Countryside Design Summary continues to be relevant as planning guidance supporting this policy. It can be downloaded as a PDF below.
Sedgemoor District encompasses parts of two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Mendip Hills and Quantock Hills). Separate Landscape Assessment documents are available for these areas (see related links below).