What is a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment?
Landscape is about more than just how an area looks. The European Convention on Landscape describes it as “our living natural and cultural heritage, be it ordinary or outstanding, urban or rural, on land or in water”. Landscapes underpin our economy, support health and well-being and have unique qualities which contribute to the development of community identities and a sense of place.
Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) can be key to effective planning decisions since it helps identify the effects of new developments on views and on the landscape itself. These effects can be quite different. Some developments can have visual effects but none on landscape character and some vice versa. A depth of analysis and understanding of these two interrelated aspects is required to produce a successful LVIA.
ProHort has extensive experience of undertaking Landscape and Visual Impact Assessments. Through LVIAs, we can work with our clients to address landscape and visual impact issues at an early stage, ensuring proposals work within the landscape setting, deal effectively with any constraints and are visually acceptable. A project which works with the landscape character of the area is more likely to be acceptable at a local level and to local planning authorities.
Working with our photo montage and visualisation experts, our landscape architects can advise on appropriate design and mitigation measures; often leading to appearances at public inquiries to present detailed evidence on development proposals.
ProHort also carries out Landscape Character Assessments (LCA) at a Local Authority level, identifying the unique qualities and features of an area which contribute to local distinctiveness. Our LCAs are used in Local Plans, Transport Strategies and Supplementary Planning Guidance to improve the design quality of new development and to promote good countryside management.
The process of completing any LVIA follows a structured methodology designed to ensure transparency and objectivity. The scale of a project determines the level of content required for each stage.
Provides a description of the proposed development for the purpose of the assessment. Normally includes a description of any alternatives considered.
Makes an initial judgement about the scope of the LVIA and of the issues that need to be covered under the individual topics or themes. Includes establishment of the relevant study area.
The baseline study aims to provide a factual record and analysis of the current nature and value of the landscape and visual amenity in the area. Incorporating a combination of desk study and fieldwork to identify and record the character of the landscape and the elements, features and aesthetic and perceptual factors which contribute to it, as well as the value attached to the landscape.
Prediction and description of the effect’s
Systematic prediction of the effects that are likely to occur and description of their nature. Once any significant effects have been identified landscape receptors need to be evaluated in terms of their sensitivity to the type of change or development proposed. This is achieved by adhering to the methodology set out in GLVIA3 guidelines designed to ensure transparency and objective decision making.
Proposals for measures designed to for avoid, reduce or compensate for any negative effects or enhance positive effects. Mitigation proposals may be incorporated into the project design through the iterative design and assessment process
Evaluation of the effects after mitigation
Systematic and transparent evaluation of the evaluation of the effects that remain after mitigation has been incorporated into the scheme proposal.
For larger developments, community consultation may be required.
Preparation of Findings
Presentation of the findings of the LVIA in written and graphic form.
Additional or Amended Services
Review of the findings to identify any required amendments.