Principle 4: Landscape and Boundaries

Landscape whether it is existing or proposed has an important impact on development of Gypsy and Traveller sites. Depending on the development (brownfield or greenfield) key considerations should be reviewed at all stages of design and planning.

Development will always impact on existing landscapes whether this is a physical impact or a visual impact. Consideration of these impacts will be important in how development responds to these changes.

Early consultation and analysis are important to identify these constraints. Impacts on existing landscapes will drive density, layout and design approaches through references to designations or protected landscapes and habitats. The response to an existing site and its context will be crucial in the success and integration. Typically, this response is driven by the site’s landscape approach and boundary treatments.


Depending on the location of a gypsy and traveller site, soft landscaping can have an important role in how the site responds to its context, character and quality of development.  The use of soft landscaping should be considered at an early stage. There can be many existing features or considerations which can influence the density, layout and type of development proposed. The sections below outline key considerations which relate to policy, designation and protections which can have potentially large impacts.

Landscape approaches should be considered over the use of harsh hardstanding areas and communal areas. The use of tree planting and planting beds provides visual barriers when approaching vehicle tracking and traffic calming. 


Location and siting of a Gypsy and Traveller site can have large impacts on designated areas such as Green Belt, SSSI, AONB and conservation areas. This will determine the level of development accommodated on a site along with strict mitigation measures should a development be acceptable. It is recommended that early review is undertaken to understand any potential constraints of an application site.


The existing landscape should be considered when proposing a new gypsy and traveller site. This is applicable to both application site and wider context. It is recommended that a full analysis of a site is undertaken at an early stage to assess any potential impacts. This can include Tree Preservation Orders, Conservation Areas, Protected Species, Ancient Woodlands and Hedgerows, protected Lanes as well a other heritage assets. Suitably qualified consultants would be able to recommend and undertake the required assessment work.

Landscape Visual Impact Assessments

Depending on the site’s location and the level of development proposed, an application site may require a Landscape Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA). The purpose of the assessment is to determine the level of impact development may have on both the existing landscape and character.  It is recommended that discussions are held at the pre-application stage to assess the impact the proposals may have and the requirements from planning required to mitigate any potential harm.

Site Boundaries

Site screening requirements for Gypsy and Traveller sites should be approached to address harmful noise or visual factors only. Any community developed will need to ensure integration and inclusion within existing communities is promoted. Site boundaries hold the risk of creating physical barriers from a social perspective and it is encouraged these factors are overcome from an early stage within the design process.

Screening requirements for gypsy and traveller sites vary depending on location and surrounding contextual influences. Screening could be required from either a visual or noise perspective where soft landscape strategies can aid in both scenarios. The level of screening will need to be assessed from both a privacy and security perspective. While some communities may favour enhanced screening from surrounding roads and noise sources it is important to acknowledge the requirement of surveillance both into and out of the site’s boundaries. It is recommended that requirements are assessed against landscape, security and community input.

Page updated: 11/09/2019

Make the most of the Essex Design Guide, register today

As well as ensuring you are always in the know about future changes and updates to the Essex Design Guide, registering with us will enable to you to add and manage bookmarks throughout the site, so your most-used areas of the guide are always easy to find.

Register for updates

© 2024 Copyright Essex County Council. All rights reserved.