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LANDSCAPING SCHEMES - IS
THIS THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG?
Have you noticed how everything looks great at the moment -
in the garden and parks I mean. Everything seems in bloom, full of colour
and life. This is a great time of year for biking as well but that's another
Can you remember last years new development along
your street that now seems a little more integrated into the landscape or
Planting....Its all about planting and using
plants and trees to soften new buildings into their environment. In the
seventies and eighties this was a very low priority for residential development
schemes and even today, poorly landscaped developments look just that unless
their new owners have had a sympathetic hand.
Landscaping normally falls into two distinct categories
- hard and soft. The hard stuff is the walling, paving, steps and edges for
example and the soft is the planting from mixed shrubs to exotic trees.
It is the interrelationship between these two elements
that can often make or break a scheme especially at the Planning application
stage. You see most Planning Authorities are now wising up to how important
this aspect of urban design is and how it can have an effect on people's
future living and environment.
Look though any councils empire list of departments
(Planners are the worst for this) and you are guaranteed to find terms like
'urban design team' for example. The old terms of parks and trees department
has now virtually disappeared with all this new rebranding jargon from the
States...somebody please tell me how on earth we let the good ol'e 'personnel
dept' be reinvented for 'human resources'? New fangled 'management speak'
has a lot to answer for in my opinion.
Anyway, these newly invented departments are now
having greater influence on what is finally approved so don't treat them
lightly. Some are even teamed up with the local crime prevention who also
advice on the best type of spiky bush to grow under windows to prevent Mr.
swag from entering your property.
As a guide, most residential extension schemes
may not require any additional planting or landscaping to be indicated on
the scheme plans to ensure approval unless you have a potentially dominant
or overbearing wall due to the ground slope for example that would have its
impact reduced and softened by some clever planting or adjustment to the
surrounding ground levels.
Speculative residential development will
most certainly benefit from a bit of thought put into a separate landscaping
scheme at the Planning application stage - it also helps the drawings to
look very 'pretty' as well. The degree of detail will vary from council
to council and from scheme to scheme. Fortunately, most Planners will accept
an 'illustrative' scheme without too much reference to exact species or surface
materials as this can be reserved or conditioned for later approval.
However, many will indicate that you may wish to
engage further supplementary experts to get involved such as 'landscape
architects' even for an outline application but this really isn't necessary
unless the scheme is in a very sensitive landscaped area. Once you have your
planning permission it doesn't seem that hard to part with some extra money
for these extra 'expert?' fees but until then just try and indicate what
you feel looks nice and will enhance the drawings with the aim of softening
the building into the natural environment.
Often, many councils will actually work with you
and make suggestions for landscaping especially if you are Joe public rather
than an Agent. For us Design Agents it can be very frustrating having to
consider Planting at an early stage of the design especially if the
scheme is speculative and who wants to spend time and money deciding what
trees to plant for a site when there are far more important 'first principal'
design issues to consider such as siting, scale, roof lines, window orientation
and distances etc. of the main building.
In my opinion, Landscaping is very much
the 'chicken' for most developments when the 'egg' is to get right the basic
design of of the built structure first. Most councils urban design teams
with their new army 'jobsworth' strips on their shoulders from the rebranding
exercise from the Parks Dept. would see things differently and this is to
be expected. So if you encounter this with your scheme do not be resistant
and try to include for such hard and soft landscaping elements where you
can otherwise the scheme may not be supported by the Councils Planning
Our 'Maximum Build
Planning Guide' explains further the issues on landscaping
and trees and how they can affect development approval.
To purchase our Maximum Build Planning
Guide simply click on one of the links below....
"In the story of your
life, are you a victim or a victor? It is the difference between being a
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About the Author
MSM is a Practicing Planning Agent and building design team offering
Architectural Services to their clients specialising in residential
development. The views and opinions expressed here are personal
ones based on relevant life experiences. These views and opinions are
not intended to be actioned or copied by others.
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