Landscape design guidance

In assessing a planning application from a landscape design perspective, there are a number of general design principles to be considered whilst taking account of the individual factors relevant for any scheme. These include:

  • Evaluation of existing features, based on accurate site surveys (physical and ecological) and their retention, protection and enhancement as appropriate for trees, hedges, habitats, walls, fences, et.
  • Respecting local landscape character, taking account of any character statements, eg landscape assessments, village design statements.
  • Designations: Respecting landscape designations (for example, Public rights of way, Sites of Biological Importance, Conservation areas, Tree Preservation Orders).
  • Siting: Appropriate siting of the development to integrate with its surroundings.
  • Density: Balance of provision for open space and vegetation in relation to density of built development and infrastructure.
  • Impact: Consideration of the landscape and visual impact of proposals.
  • Mitigation: Providing landscape mitigation proposals where appropriate, (for example replacement habitats, ponds, new structure planting, screening, boundary planting, acoustic barriers.)
  • Proposals: Providing new landscape proposals appropriate to the scheme (for example pedestrian access routes, paving, boundary treatments, street furniture, lighting, replacement tree planting, structure planting, hedges, ornamental planting).
  • Quality: Quality of proposals in relation to their appropriateness to design intent and setting.
  • Access: Adequate provision for pedestrian and cycle access, including disabled access.
  • Security: "Secured by Design" principles for crime prevention.
  • Feasibility: Technical feasibility of a scheme design.
  • Materials: Appropriate choice of hard (ie built elements such as paving, fencing) and soft materials (ie plant material and earthworks) throughout.
  • Management: Adequate provision for maintenance and management of the scheme following completion.

Information required

In order to assess the landscape design elements of a scheme, the following information is helpful as a minimum and indicates a commitment to dealing with landscape issues:

  • drawings showing location of existing landscape features, including a tree survey if there are significant numbers of trees, and their loss or retention
  • drawing showing landscape proposals
  • visuals and photos to demonstrate the visual impact of a development, and a full landscape and Visual Impact Assessment if the scale of the scheme merits this
  • levels information or cross sections to indicate any significant changes in levels.
  • measures for the protection of trees and vegetation to be retained.
  • details associated with temporary access roads, compounds, storage areas for construction

Useful design information

There are a number of policy and design guidance sources which are of relevance when drawing up schemes. Some of those are as follows. 

Manual for Streets

The Manual for Streets published in March 2007 by the Department for Transport provides guidance for practitioners involved in the planning, design, provision and approval of new residential streets, and modifications to existing ones. It aims to increase the quality of life through good design which creates more people-orientated streets.

Urban Design Compendium

The design principles from this are available on the Home and Communities site, where you can also order the document.

Environment and sustainability

Secured by Design - the official UK police flagship initiative supporting the principles of "designing out crime".

Page last reviewed: 09 August 2021