Speed of response, professionalism, expertise and clarity: our key difference is our commercial acumen.
We save developers significant sums and add huge value through our intelligent strategies, landscape expertise, and ‘big-picture’ thinking.
We take care to plan open space in the right places and ensure an optimum interface of buildings to green infrastructure, in order to maximise dwellings overlooking green spaces. These sell for a 10% premium, adding value to the development.
At James Blake Associates, we believe that landscape planning is about helping to fulfil the developer’s vision, whilst ensuring the landscape character respects local, regional and national landscape character assessment typologies and their management requirements.
Landscape planning should also respect heritage features, key views and vistas to reflect local, regional and national policy and guidance. Excellent strategic landscape advice should also save developers significant sums of money, whilst adding value. By keeping the introduction of nature and biodiversity as the golden (or perhaps green) thread running through the open space strategy, JBA saves on average, £11.50/m2 (2018) of the build cost (compared to more standard open-space designs), and serendipitously, this also halves the ongoing maintenance costs.
How GI Strategies can add Value and Save Money
We promote practical and cost-effective Green Infrastructure (GI) strategies, such as Natural Parklands, or Natural Garden-Cities approaches, and in doing this was have saved clients hundreds of thousands of pounds. A recent site had a 50:50 net to gross developable area, and the GI areas exceeded 160,000m2, leading to a saving of £1.8m for our client, with maintenance costs also being halved.
Our expert strategic landscape team can carry out landscape and visual appraisals (LVA’s), and townscape assessments that justify development layout options and can steer key GI criterion towards these low cost, sustainable ways. The LVA can be extended to form a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) by assessing the temporary and residual effects of the proposed development once a layout is provided and certain. This, along with an assessment of cumulative effects, can form the Landscape and Visual chapter of an Environmental Statement, where required for larger projects. All our work is carried out in accordance with the current Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (GVLIA Third Edition).
We have extensive experience of preparing Green Belt Reviews to assess promotion sites against other potential development sites within the Green Belt. These consider the contribution that the site makes to the 5 main purposes of Green Belt, as defined in the National Planning Policy Framework. It is of key importance to promote sites by identifying how they make a weak contribution to its purposes, in time for the ‘call for sites’ process. This occurs when a Local Planning Authority is working on a new Local Plan and is considering which sites to allocate in order to meet their development requirements, often prompted by a failure to meet the 5 year housing supply requirement.
We can evaluate the viability of prospective land purchases by assessing sites for their green constraints and opportunities and can prepare the green infrastructure for site-specific landscape design briefs. We can also contribute the text for bids or planning applications. JBA has 30 years of empirical data on landscape build and maintenance costs, and this legacy enables us to establish huge savings for our clients, via cementing buildable strategies that work, from concept to delivery on site.
We flag any potential conflicts of interest before we quote. Once on site, we look out for any constraints and/or risks, such as Japanese Knotweed, veteran trees, or constraining landscape features, as well as identifying any opportunities for adding value to the development that would result from incorporating existing landscape elements. Such practices are put in place to minimise the risk of failure in achieving planning approvals. We can also appraise other competing sites against our site.
For larger or urban projects, appraising the character of the existing settlement patterns and street profiles ensures vital evidence and baseline underpinning of cost-effective design concepts and landscape design briefs. Our coloured sketch layouts, concept plans, and landscape masterplans are well referenced and supported by our library of (bespoke) illustrative sections, photographs, and construction details. Urban design and landscape character studies cost little but can serve to speed up the development process as well as safeguard a more cost effective and appropriate scheme.