Fluvial Design Guide - Chapter 5

Landscape and heritage

5.3 How to consider landscape and heritage issues

Appointing landscape and heritage professionals reduces the risk of delays and unforeseen construction costs.

Landscape architects are chartered professionals trained to consider landscape and visual matters. The website of their professional body, the Landscape Institute (http://www.landscapeinstitute.org) offers free guidance as to the appointment of landscape architects and the work stages they are expected to adopt.

Heritage consultants normally specialise in particular areas. Depending on the heritage nature of a project, a number of professionals may therefore be needed to provide support. A good starting point is to consult the heritage officer of a local authority to learn about the known and potential heritage interest at a site. The appointment of relevant heritage experts can then be made to cover such matters as archaeology, industrial heritage, landscape heritage and heritage architecture. A number of organisations exist to promote the activities of heritage professionals and include:

When appointed, landscape architects and heritage professionals should have a clear written brief to allow both them and the client to understand what is expected from the commission. They need to provide inputs to all the stages of a typical fluvial project as defined in Table 5.1. Key decisions taken at the start of a project, before landscape and heritage professional involvement, may reduce the end quality of the scheme. Such poorly informed decisions can also lead to costly redesign work as landscape and heritage challenges are encountered further into the project programme.

5.3.1 Legal and statutory framework

There is an important distinction between statutory and voluntary requirements when considering landscape and heritage issues. The prime statutory requirements arise from planning conditions or consents to work in sensitive environments such as conservation areas or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

Local planning authorities – typically local authorities but on occasion national park authorities –stipulate their landscape and heritage requirements within their Local Development Framework (LDF). The LDF is the replacement of the local plan and sets down the planning policies and designations that apply within the authority’s boundary. In addition there may be either adopted or unadopted supplementary planning guidance. This could include conservation area management plans, townscape design guides, or specifications for the investigation and protection of heritage assets.

Covenants may be in place on certain areas such as common land, village greens and playing fields. These should always be investigated to see if they exist on a site and, if they do, what they allow or restrict.

Voluntary requirements are sometimes entered into where the developer of a scheme agrees to carry out additional environmental works as part of their project. For fluvial works these could assist in the delivery of enhancement works, such as better access along and onto a watercourse, habitat creation, or general environmental improvements to benefit the public use of an area. They may not necessarily assist in the operational performance of the main river works, but can add greatly to the public perception of quality and satisfaction with a scheme. Such enhancements require funding from either the project budget or from other sources, such as external partnerships. Either way, legal agreements regarding the payments of money and future adoption of the enhancement works should be carefully drafted and entered into before committing to spend budget on such elements.

Buildings, like buried archaeological sites, are often protected via statutory designations. Structures are assessed and either protected as scheduled ancient monuments, designated as Grade I, Grade II* or Grade II listed buildings, recorded on the local sites and monuments record, or described on a local list maintained by a planning authority. But even though a building has not been designated or recorded in this way, it may still be important and worthy of protection.

In England and Wales, the Environment Agency has a legal duty to enhance the environment and recreation within it. The Rivers Agency in Northern Ireland state in their vision the need to manage flood risk in the province to facilitate the social, economic and environmental development of Northern Ireland. Finally the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) monitor and report on the condition of Scotland’s environment and consider that their primary role is to protect and improve the environment.


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