Fluvial Design Guide - Chapter 5

Landscape and heritage

5.2 When to consider landscape and heritage issues

The process of delivering a river scheme such as a flood defence or weir maintenance works has been split into five stages. Table 5.1 gives summaries of typical landscape and heritage matters at each stage and the level of detail required. These lists are not exhaustive and careful review is required to reflect the characteristics of individual sites.

Table 5.1 Landscape and heritage issues to consider at different stages of a river scheme

Development stage

Landscape issues

Heritage issues


  • Identifying major landscape designations such as national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.
  • Reporting on their potential implications.
  • Identifying heritage designations such as scheduled or listed status or presence of conservation areas that require further investigation or may necessitate additional mitigation work.

Assessment and approvals

  • Landscape character assessment and landscape visual impact assessment to inform the assessment of options and to feed into EIA procedures.
  • Outline design proposals sufficient to allow negotiation with, and applications to, consenting authorities.
  • Desktop research of known heritage material leading to a site assessment.
  • Non-intrusive investigation surveys, considering unknown assets that, in turn, may later lead to pre-contract intrusive investigation works.
  • Heritage impact assessment of varying options and gaining heritage consents.

Detailed design

  • Landscape proposals for mitigation and enhancement works.
  • Such works can include hard materials like wall cladding and paving works.
  • Soft works include tree and shrub planting, garden and land reinstatement, seeding and habitat creation.
  • Detailing mitigation works.
  • Approving other people’s designs to minimise negative impacts on heritage assets.
  • Ensuring conditions placed on any heritage approvals are adhered to.
  • Evaluation of historical assets is best undertaken in advance of the main works so as not to hold up the construction project.


  • Site inspection and monitoring of construction impacts on trees and other protected landscape features.
  • Ensure that the landscape impact of any site changes can be assessed and mitigated if required.
  • Site inspection and monitoring of construction impacts on heritage features.
  • Monitoring of the construction activities to ensure that the discoveries of unknown historical assets – usually archaeological in nature – are assessed and recorded. This is usually called a ‘watching brief’.

Maintenance, management and interpretation

  • On completion of the main engineering works, a maintenance period is required for landscape planting works. This gives the best chance of successful establishment.
  • Management is the process by which the design intent of the landscape works is delivered.
  • Maintenance activities are the activities that are undertaken to achieve the management objectives.
  • Interpretation of the historical artefacts and research is required.
  • Such reports are logged with county archaeologists and sometimes with the National Archive Service. This allows future analysis of findings for a geographical area and desktop assessment of future schemes.
  • If assets of interest are found, they can be interpreted for the benefit of local people.


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