Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment
For new houses and developments, solar farms and wind farms
Often a requirement of local planning authorities to obtain planning permission. Joss Benatt as a Chartered Landscape Architect with extensive experience of landscape and visual impact assessment is well placed to carry out the process in accordance with the latest standards, as set out in the Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Assessment (GLVIA 3). The assessment ranges in levels of detail and complexity. For smaller, less sensitive sites, we can produce smaller reports that assess the affect of the development based on a number of key viewpoints. For larger developments in more sensitive locations, more extensive reports are often required. These will assess the development in the context of landscape policy and designations and will assess the extent of the visibility locally and in the wider landscape and look at the potential mitigation measures that might make the development integrate better into its surrounding context. If required we can produce visualizations including photomontages to support an application.
The Process of Landscape and Visual Assessment
Before visiting a site we look at the baseline context in terms of planning policy and existing landscape character assessment guidelines. Study of Ordnance Survey and aerial mapping as well as the creation of topographical plans using height data helps in understanding the landscape context of the site, existing vegetation pattern and landform. The topographical plans are used to assess the likely visibility of the site in the surrounding area.
Visiting the site follows the baseline studies and enables verifying the locations from where the site is visible on the ground, as this is often affected by built form and vegetation cover. It is then possible to indicate the visual envelope of the site on a plan and to produce annotated photographs to illustrate the visibility of the site for groups of visual receptors, e.g. users of roads, public rights of way etc.
Assessment of Landscape and Visual Effects
The landscape and visual effects of the proposed development are appraised using a well established process that is set down in the guidance (GLVIA) and judgements are made, taking into account the sensitivity of the receptor as well as the magnitude of the proposed development.
The process of landscape and visual assessment is an iterative one, as the findings of the assessment feedback to the design, allowing the designers to reduce these effects through avoidance and mitigation through informed site design, layout and strategic planting. Carrying out the process at as early a stage as possible is in line with best practice, is required by local planning authorities and enables informed liaison with statutory agencies. The benefits of this cannot be overemphasized as this avoids the need for costly abortive work and reduce the likelihood that proposals will be refused planning permission, or that plans will have to be reworked during the determination stage.