The latest LVIA guidelines are here

The 3rd edition of the Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (GLVIA) was released by the Landscape Institute (LI) and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) last week. Students — forget the previous editions this is the one to use; practitioners, if you are involved in this kind of work, you have no choice but to get up to speed; clients — make sure you ask for a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) in accordance with the latest guidance; and barristers — don’t let your landscape architect near the witness box without an updated proof.

So what’s different? I don’t know just yet — I am away for a few days and the idea of poring over the 3rd edition in preference to a walk by the sea will lead me straight to the divorce courts. The LI say that the ‘main difference is that GLVIA3 places greater emphasis on professional judgement and less emphasis on a formulaic approach’. Three cheers for this approach.

We did have sight of the draft last year. There was more clarity over ‘impact’ and ‘effects’; assessment of impact is the ‘process’ and the effects are the ‘consequences’. ‘Landscape sensitivity’ is bought to the fore which is hardly surprising as Professor Carys Swanwick edited the 3rd edition. In 2002 she contributed to the Countryside Agency’s Topic Paper 6: Techniques and Criteria for Judging Capacity and Sensitivity — another document landscape architects should be familiar with.

‘Landscape capacity’ is used to describe the ability of a landscape to accommodate different amounts of change or development of a specific type, so a ‘Capacity Study’ is on the big scale and would look at the most suitable areas for say housing or wind turbines. ‘Landscape sensitivity’ is usually site specific and looks at the ability of a landscape to absorb change for a particular type of development proposal.

In the draft more emphasis was given to assessing visual effects; it will be interesting to see how this has been resolved and how the night time landscape has been addressed. By the way, I heard this version of GLVIA spoken of as Gl-vee-ah 3— which sounds like a nasty tropical disease and is yet another acronym to annoy me but if you want to sound like you know what’s what, that’s the way forward.

It sometimes feels that LVIA is dominated by the bigger practices on the Public Inquiry circuit, Wholesale NFL Jerseys but all landscape architects should be assessing whether their design proposals have a beneficial or adverse effect on the landscape. As a landscape architect, you may not need to follow every page in this book but you should understand the principles for your day-to-day work.

We all have homework to do — good luck!

GLVIA3 is available from the LI priced £49.99. The LI is organising masterclasses to introduce the new edition — visit the website for details. http://landscapeinstitute.org/knowledge/GLVIA.php

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