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Masterplanning is a privilege, an opportunity to plant a flag in the ground for quality. It means getting under the skin of a place and working closely with communities. It means ensuring new infrastructure also results in better places to live, work and visit.

Masterplanning is an exercise in trust. We do not treat it lightly.

Everyone deserves to  be in a place where they can be healthy and happy, where there are things to do at any age and close contact to nature, and where you are likely to bump into a neighbour. And most of us are lucky enough to know what a place like this feels like.

When we embark on a masterplan, Immanuel Kant’s rules for happiness ring loudly. “Something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.” We want the places we help to create to be enterprising and full of hope and life.

At LDA Design, masterplanning is a social endeavour. People are connected to place through landscape. If masterplanning is to succeed in its social purpose, it needs the power of synthesis that landscape brings.

“This was Shrewsbury’s best experience of masterplanning in 30 years.”   

Ramenki masterplan

A landscape-led approach to masterplanning creates specific kinds of value. It produces welcoming, civil spaces that draw on the history of a place.  It best places us to work with local people to tackle some of the most pressing issues they face, addressing severance and lack of opportunity, as well as the causes of loneliness, obesity, poor air quality and anti-social behaviour.

What makes our approach to masterplanning distinctive is how we combine a creative, landscape-led approach to spatial planning with a sound strategy for the making of place, underpinned by well-grounded development economics. For us, landscape-led not only secures exceptional place quality but delivers land that can be serviced efficiently, released in tranches that amount to a sensible sequence of place making, minimises major grey infrastructure costs and maximises the value that can be reinvested in communities.

In Exeter, we are working to create the UK’s most liveable city through a bold new strategy associated with a major housing delivery programme. The strategy emphasises Exeter’s qualities and demonstrates how these will attract investment as the city grows.

At Welborne in Hampshire, we are masterplanning one of the first of the new wave of 21st century garden communities to ensure it is an enterprising community, with workspaces, health hubs and community spaces.

A big idea is key. Like our car-free vision for Waterbeach, that reimagines residential streets as places for people of all ages to enjoy.

The world is at a critical juncture. What kinds of towns and cities do we want to create; what kind of lives do we want to lead; how do we manage finite natural resources? A landscape-led approach to placemaking has many of the answers.

It is the task of a masterplan to resolve difficult – often conflicting – issues. We aim to cut through complexity with a small number of key moves.

For Shrewsbury in Shropshire, we have recently managed a Big Town Plan, an intense but highly collaborative masterplanning process. Two and a half thousand local people fed in, and a penetrating ‘Shrewsbury Test’ will be used to decide on new development and infrastructure. People want to reverse the dominance of the car and concentrate activity in the centre.

Waterbeach, on the edge of the fens in Cambridgeshire, is held within an open and compelling landscape. Our work on Waterbeach New Town spans 20 years. It will be a first for UK housing at scale. Here in the residential ‘steads’, streets will be largely car free, with the feel of intimate green linear parks with space for communal activities. 

Landscape-led masterplanning has the wind beneath its sails because it results in extraordinary places. It is resonating widely – in Russia, we find an appetite to move away from decades of buildings-first design, shifting the focus to people and healthier ways of living. Our plans for Serp & Molot, a former industrial site in Moscow, and for Oktyabrsky Island in Kaliningrad are the zeitgeist.  

Contact David Wesselingh to discuss how we can help. 

What have our masterplanners been up to?

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