Landscape - Key Requirements

The proposed landscape structure should encompass the entire system of public open space by providing visual contrast to the built environment and constituting a legible network based on any existing trees and hedgerows. A block of trees visible above rooftops, for example, enhances the legibility of a development from outside.  The incorporation of existing landscape features is particularly important to people with dementia, as familiar landmarks can serve as visual cues to aid in wayfinding.

The landscape structure should also provide opportunities for multifunctional open spaces. These should allow for a range of activities for all ages and physical and mental abilities, including space for active play.  

When planning layouts designers should seek to join up these landscape features and open spaces to create coherent linked landscape networks which can be used to encourage people to be active, for example by routing paths and cycle ways through these green networks.

Stimuli targeted at each of the senses (sight, scent, touch, sound and taste) should be incorporated into the landscape structure from the outset, to ensure that the development caters for people of all physical and mental abilities. This relates to both the natural, soft elements of the landscape – such as planting – and hard elements like sculptures, water features and furniture. Planning for users of all abilities and ages from the beginning can reduce the need for costly future adaptations.

The landscape structure should, in addition, create a network of wildlife corridors linking public open spaces to nearby countryside – and if little biodiversity interest has been identified, should include features that will help to foster new habitats.

Where green infrastructure proposals are based on the retention of existing hedgerows, these should be within the public realm, not just in private gardens. The green links should be fairly continuous (short breaks are possible) and should contain mixed indigenous tree and other plant species as well as areas of long grass, which provides protection for wildlife and may attract some species of ground-nesting birds and is of a benefit to insects, particularly bees. Attention should also be given to the creation of interdependent plant communities.

Where there is an exposed edge to open countryside, the planting of tree shelter-belts (especially on a north-east edge) can reduce cold-weather heat loss from dwellings up to 150m away. Indigenous woodland tree species should be used, together with a mixture of evergreen and deciduous under-planting.

Trees also have an important role to play in urban spaces. They can provide natural shelter and shade, both in the public realm and in communal and private spaces, which can be particularly important to the younger and ageing population, as well as to those with a range of physical and mental conditions.   

The design of the surface water run-off system should be considered in conjunction with the landscape structure. Balancing ponds for storm-water should contain a permanent body of water, and can be a valuable ecological and landscape feature. Planned absorption of surface water into the ground can help the water-table level, though this is unlikely to be feasible in clay areas. For more information, refer to the ‘Flooding’ section of this guide.

Buildings and private spaces can also be exploited to create a range of different habitats. Climbing plants can colonise walls, and green/brown roofs, roof terraces, balconies and gardens can offer habitats for wildlife.

The management and aftercare of green spaces, landscaping and protection of habitat and species will need to be considered and where necessary a management plan should be agreed with the Local Planning Authority.

Page updated: 30/07/2019

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