Designing development in Cheshire East’s landscape

Landscape design guidance

If you are thinking about developing a site, you should first consider how your ideas will fit into the landscape.

Think about the good landscape features your site has. What topography can you keep? Which areas of soils can you leave undisturbed? What trees, shrubs, hedges or sections of hedge, or other vegetation can you keep? Think about an appropriate size for buildings and surfaces – you don’t need to build what you don’t really need.

Reduce and minimise your impacts on the landscape, both on your site, on neighbouring land, on any haulage routes and on donor sites you’ll need materials from, such as quarries. Make your scheme more sustainable by reusing materials or using renewable material. If new materials are essential, think where you could get the nearest appropriate materials from.

Follow these steps to reduce poor effects on landscape and on people who use the landscape:

Landscape and visual effects hierarchy

Don't do things that would harm the landscape or spoil the enjoyment of landscape users including local residents, employees, visitors and travellers. For example, consider a different site to avoid changing a site that has natural topography – undisturbed land, and don’t move soil, don’t cut down healthy trees, don’t remove hedges or remove or spoil other good landscape features such as historic field boundaries, streams or ponds. Think about sensory effects and make sure your development suits the amount of activity, smells or sounds already in the surrounding landscape, and suits typical land-uses for the neighbourhood.

Test different layouts, building types, sizes or shapes, minimise construction, minimise your development’s demands on the wider landscape, haulage – lorries for delivering materials, and effects on natural drainage and vegetation, check your suppliers’ sustainability and ethics particularly if you need stone from quarries. Think about how to conserve and reflect local vernacular, such as traditional buildings, structures or gateways.

For example, use good soils management and keep and reuse excavated soils on site by making deeper soils where possible such as in seeded or planted areas, incorporate and include a good sustainable drainage system (SuDS) into your landscaping scheme, grow plants on green roofs and living walls, consider additional off-site planting if appropriate, make unavoidable surfacing porous or permeable, and use appropriate recycled or renewable and local materials for construction.

For example by creating more habitats for nature such as more trees, hedges, ditches, streams and ponds, plant more vegetation including off-site vegetation within your land ownership where possible and appropriate, include better quality materials and features which improve your local landscape’s character.

Your development’s design should

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Evaluate existing features - based on accurate surveys of your site’s topography, soils and vegetation, including: landform, field boundaries, soils, waterbodies – rivers, streams, ponds, ditches, and bogs - and trees, hedges, scrub – natural shrubby growth - grassland, and local features, such as traditional structures, patterns or a local style of objects.

Be technically viable practical, suitably engineered and safe, sensible and reasonable, taking particular care with land levels, contours, slopes, water, soils – especially where supporting other land or structures - and external structures such as walls or embankments

Minimise hard surfaced areas and make any necessary hard surfacing porous or permeable, unless there are known contamination or ecological constraints, such as risk of pollution or changes to soil or water that would effect habitats

Choose reused, before recycled, before local new materials and ensure materials comply with relevant industry standards for their proposed use. If new natural stone is unavoidable, for example for building conservation reasons, ensure it has ethical and sustainable quarrying and supply-chains by providing a verification or accreditation certificate, such as the Ethical Trading Initiative. Tree and shrub protection such as spirals, tubes and mulch mats which should be biodegradable or photodegradable.

Provide good access routes for pedestrians, wheelchair users and cyclists around your site and linking your site with neighbouring communities and amenities

Retain vegetation where possible and sow or plant species suited to site conditions – for example, using indigenous native species and types of plant which grow naturally in the planting place’s conditions and location, following Natural England’s guidance for hedgerow planting and care (PDF, 650KB) and using the Tree Design Action group’s guidance for tree species selection; follow phytosanitary - plant health legislation for plants and plant material, including timber, woodchips and bark, to help protect against spread of plant pests and diseases.

Include landscaping management and maintenance with methods for building and maintaining external structures including waterbodies – such as ponds, canals, ditches, swales - and for sowing, planting, establishing and managing plants, including a programme for maintenance works and confirmation of who will be responsible for managing maintenance. This could be a simple  drawing with notes and a table for the programme.

Applying for planning consent

If you are thinking of applying for planning consent, we recommend you:

Assessing your application

When your application is submitted, we will assess the effects that your proposed development will have on the landscape and on people’s experience of it.

Our assessment will look at your proposed types of land use, the layout, scale, shapes and extent of buildings, structures and surfacing, soils management, SuDS, boundaries, materials, retained vegetation and new planting. 

If we think your development may be acceptable with better mitigation, we might recommend improvements to your proposals to reduce its impact on the landscape itself, or on users of the landscape.  

Use our landscaping scheme checklist to make sure you have everything you need to submit with your application.

Page last reviewed: 02 March 2024