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Environmental Planning

Our environmental planning team provides the technical skills and creative insight to deliver change and development that is well designed, responds positively to its local context and delivers multiple benefits to people and wildlife.

By understanding the natural, social and environmental context of change, we help clients and communities to make informed decisions about what development means for the landscape and the built environment, and where to invest to achieve positive outcomes. 

Our environmental planners have expertise in a range of disciplines. We provide Landscape and Visual Impact Assessments, Landscape Character Assessments and Green Belt Studies and have the skills and experience to apply our understanding of the key issues to problem solving and to the planning and design of successful new development.

Our job is to secure the right balance between growth and protection and deliver environmental enhancement.

A framework for sustainable growth

Our environmental planning work is often rooted in developing innovative green infrastructure (GI) strategies. For the Leeds City Region (pictured), we identified how to align investment in GI with ambitions plans for economic growth, housing and regeneration. 

We have advised Network Rail on retrofitting a productive working lineside to ensure that a wider range of environmental services and benefits from this underutilised resource can be gained, whilst maintaining the highest standards of safety and operational performance. 

At the local scale, we recently advised on a visionary strategy for the Wandle Valley Regional Park and are currently developing a GI strategy for the Thamesmead Estate in east London.


Advising on the green belt

We are frequently called on to assess whether green belt land is performing its intended purposes and whether there is scope to release land for development, which can often deliver associated enhancements to adjoining green belt land. For example, our review of the Cambridge Green Belt, which was primarily designated to preserve the setting and special character of the city, led to the release of an area of land which will become an extension to Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Protecting our finest landscapes

We have a comprehensive understanding of legislation and policy related AONBs and National Parks. Our team was responsible for several of the original technical landscape assessments prepared for AONBs and more recently we have prepared detailed landscape appraisals, strategies and guidelines for designated areas, including an award winning assessment of the Cotswolds AONB. 

Our team was commissioned to help secure the designation of the South Downs National Park and recently completed a review of Natural England’s proposed variation to the boundary of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB. The team also has experience of supporting local planning authorities in assessing land that is locally designated

An ability to read the landscape and to understand the forces of change is vital if we are to plan for positive development.  

Reading the landscape

An ability to read the landscape is a core skill for our team. Our ground-breaking assessment for the Dorset Coast, understood to be the first of its type, maps and describes the character of coastal and marine areas, the forces of change that are acting upon them, and the mechanisms necessary to plan for positive change in the future.

We also recognise the critical role that the historic and natural environment has in understanding landscape. In addition to in-house expertise, we regularly collaborate with the UK’s leading archaeological and ecological consultancies.

Assessment and mitigation

As one of the UK’s leading consultancies in Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA), we regularly contribute to Landscape Institute guidance. Our work ranges across all scales and types of development from smaller scale flood defences and housing developments through to larger scale built form including tall buildings, large commercial projects and major infrastructure including onshore and offshore wind farms. 

We understand the challenges posed by varying contexts such as urban and marine environments and protected landscapes, and apply this understanding to inform mitigation strategies through an iterative assessment and design process.

We use a single methodology and approach which is tailored to each specific project and improved upon by sharing experience gained from applications, consultations and appeals. For example, we have been working with EDF Energy on the promotion of Sizewell C in Suffolk. In addition to preparing a masterplan for the estate, we are authoring the LVIA and Amenity and Recreation chapters of the Environmental Statement and supporting the Habitat Regulations Assessment.

Expert witness

LDA Design has built up considerable experience of providing expert landscape evidence in relation to infrastructure, housing and commercial developments for all appeal formats: Written Representations, Hearings and Public Inquiries; as well as DCO Hearings and Local Plan Examinations. 

We have a number of experienced witnesses at both director and associate level, each with substantial expertise in LVIA, design and Green Belt matters. We also have an experienced support team who understand the particular requirements of appeal work.

Contact Ian Houlston to discuss how we can help.

What have our Environmental Planners been up to?

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