St Martin’s Square, Basildon – Granite planter installation

A quick visit to Basildon to check on site progress saw that the centrepiece of St Martins Square is currently being installed. The solid granite planters have been produced in Spain and are being delivered to site in manageable sections that are being installed using heavy lifting equipment. The design of the planters was originally conceived by Liz Lake Associates and we have guided the manufacture also. The planters are large and durable. Some sections have a noticeable batter adding to the finesse of the design. Corners are rounded for safety and aesthetic and there are anti-skate grooves cut into the granite to prevent misuse.  

Most of the square is now complete, including the paving scheme, sundial, steps, ramp, tree planting, lawns, seating and car park. The theme of using durable materials continues across the square which will be used often and will be heavily trafficked by pedestrians. This ensures longevity of the square design and allows the space to be used for a multitude of purposes including public events.

The final stages of the build require the completion of the granite planters and installation of new planting, which includes the relocation of 4 palm trees into the granite planters. These palms have been features of the square for years and have been translocated to another part of the site, surviving the cold winter to be planted as dominant features of the design. We look forward to the completion of the project shortly. 

What’s your favourite International Landscape..?

Tongariro National Park’s Rain Forest, New Zealand.  (Jayne Pullen, Senior Landscape Architect) So many to choose from but I have to admit the one that stands out is New Zealand’s rain forests. With the statuesque Kauri trees, the patterns formed by the abundance of tree ferns canopies and the dense ground cover of ferns and moss. You never seem to be far from a stream of ice cold water. It is an exciting, vibrant yet majestic landscape that often leads to beach.  What’s not to like….Possums?

Tea Canyons of Wuyishan, China. (Gemma Tedaldi, Landscape Architect)

I have been lucky enough to have visited a number of beautiful international landscapes around the world, but the one that has always stood out to me has to be the tea canyons in Wuyishan, China. Incredible rock peaks fill the area around the river with hiking trails through the tea terraces and routes that run almost vertically up into the mountains at times. When I visited it was raining heavily but that didn’t stop me climbing / clinging on to the cliff face, to the top of the Great King Peak.

Blue Lagoon, Malta. (Mathew Hull, Landscape Architect)

I like Malta a lot, the view to Valletta from Sliema is fantastic as are the streets of the Capitol City. The Blue Lagoon, which is actually on the shores of Comino, is a stunning place. The water is clear and warm. There are small beaches but in most places the rock formations just tumble into the sea. It is a special place I have enjoyed diving in, being surrounded by shoals of fish.

The High Line, New York. (Kelly Laws, Landscape Architect)

I love Piet Oudolf’s ‘naturalistic’ planting style and it’s juxtaposition in an urban setting. It looks like nature has reclaimed an otherwise abandoned space.

City Streets of Jaipur, India. (Matthew Logan, Landscape Architect)

A few years back I did a three-week whirlwind tour of north India when visiting for a friend’s wedding. Of the many amazing places and experiences within these diverse urban landscapes, my favourite had to be the streets of Jaipur. With the intense busyness, people jostling through open shop fronts, wheeling carts of fresh produce through streets between the frantic movements of the tuk-tuk’s pulling up the dry dust on the streets. It’s a truly sensory experience, with impressive architecture and street scenes combining with the movements and activities of people’s everyday lives.

Every Step Counts – Hatfield Forest

As spring slowly pushes through the recent showers, which seem to have started back in winter and not really let up. Although the evenings get lighter many will be waiting in anticipation of drier weather to start spending more time outdoors. That said the winter months and the weather they brought were of no consequence to the dog walkers, dedicated birdwatchers and ramblers to name a few who are about all year. Hatfield Forest, an ancient forest in Essex, managed by the National Trust is a popular destination at any time of year. The popularity of the forest in winter brings challenges for the team who are dedicated in managing the forest for all to enjoy whilst securing the historic integrity and biodiversity for the forest.

We highlighted a few months ago the conflict between the popularity of outdoor healthy lifestyles vs the wear and tear on parks, open spaces and this is also true for significant landscapes such Hatfield Forest. As Britain’s best example of a medieval Forest, the level of risk to this landscape is much more significant. The soils are heavy clay and renowned for being boggy underfoot in wet weather and so the ground becomes uneven; paths get wider as people walk over woodland edge plants whilst trying to avoid large muddy areas. I’m sure most of us who have visited in winter or a wet summer have had a ‘booty’ and been shin deep in a puddle or had their dog coated from paws to tail in mud, Its part of the fun I’m sure.

The continued popularity of the forest, increase in surrounding population, and therefore the increase use of the rides (grass paths) in these conditions are causing the soil to become compacted thereby reducing or completely destroying the quality of the soil structure required for trees, plants, grass to grow.

The national trust is experimenting with various ways to control, prevent and at least mitigate against damage to these historic rides. Drainage strategies, alternate ways to repair routes, reviewing walking routes with short to medium term closures to allow rides to recover are all being considered. The goal is to ensure the forest remains opens year round whilst preserving the historic site. The growth of the surrounding area north of the forest has put extra pressure on winter visitor numbers due to the forest being considered as local green space in developers plans. With the support of Natural England future developments are likely to required Environmental Impact assessments that will hopefully create more localised provisions for quality external spaces.

Further reading;

Three Minute Interview…Gemma Tedaldi

Brief introduction, name, job title, location.

Gemma Tedaldi, I am a Graduate Landscape Architect in our Bristol Office and joined Liz Lake Associates in October 2017.


When you were at school what did you want to be and why?

I knew I wanted to be designing for a living but never really knew in what way. I have always been interested in exploring landscapes however so I guess it was built into me!


How did you get to be where you are today?

I initially went down the building design route and studied Architectural Technology & Design at UWE. Upon graduating I joined an architects practice as an Architectural Technologist, but deep down I knew I wanted to be more involved with the landscape side of the projects. So after 4 years in the industry I went back to university to study for my masters in Landscape Architecture. Now I am here!


What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most, and why?

The most enjoyable part of my job is that no two projects are alike, so each project allows for varied skills to be used. This means each day at the office is never the same!


What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement was seeing the first project I had ever worked finally completed with residents moving in. That feeling of walking into your project, that was a series of drawings on paper, but is now real and built, is just unforgettable.


What is the best advice you’ve been given in life?

If you try your hardest and fail, at least you’ve tried your hardest.


What is your next adventure / goal?

My next goal is to become a charted landscape architect. My next adventure is campervanning around Europe!

Gemma Tedaldi

100 Years of Play – Wicksteed

Historic photographs fascinate me; they are one of the best ways to get an introduction to a story when we weren’t around to experience it first-hand. So when I came across pages of black and white photographs depicting old style play equipment I was instantly draw in and began reminiscing about playing the super-fast wooden roundabouts, the sturdy rocking horse and the ‘Witches Hat’. I then noticed that in some of the Images children and adults were often shown either hanging upside down or on swings that went horizontal or so high, I’m sure some of them would have got vertigo. Finally I noted the tile of the article ‘100 Years of Play’……well that explained the knee length shorts, flat caps and suits and I’d love to know how the lady wearing heels, facing the ground managed to kept her hat on whilst flying through the air.

100 Years of Play

Follow link to the full article

100 Years of Play

What I really stood out from these images is that in many ways the principles behind some of the play equipment, the play action or activity in some cases hasn’t changed that much. Swings and slides have got lower and roundabouts slower. No doubt in response to the demands made by Health and safety regulations. I’m sure I’m blocking out many scraps and knocks and bruises from rickety equipment and hard surfacing.

100 Years of Play

One of the main challenges that Wicksteed have to overcome is how to keep their play equipment as adventurous, challenging and relevant to suit the demands of that generation. The 100 years of play development is testament to their ability to continue to respond to change in demands and trends. The changes that I most welcome are those that address inclusive play. There’s along way to go with this concept but with companies like Wicksteed innovating and adapting their products it will be interesting to see how play equipment develops in the future.

100 Years of Play

But no need to wait another hundred years to check out their latest products

Parkrun – the challenge on our landscape.

Does the concept of Park Run require us to change the way we design and regenerate parks, open spaces and green routes?

Articles in the media highlighted a conflict between having free healthy activities for all verses the Councils pressures to provide quality open spaces. Should councils charge for Park Run events and charge for parking in otherwise free locations?

For those who are not familiar with Park Run, it’s a 5k race for anyone to join in where you are timed and only compete against yourself unless you decide otherwise. It’s about personal challenges and goals. It appeals to the young and old alike and canines are welcome. You just need a pair of trainers, a few extra layers in the winter and the desire to give it a go. It’s sociable, its free, its outdoors, its healthy, it’s a regular event and it seems you are never far away from a venue. So what’s the issue?

parkrun logo

Park Runs in some areas may have become a victim of their own success and the sustainability of some events is unclear.

Whist you are running against yourself you may be joined by hundreds of people not including the supporters and volunteers. What started as one race with 13 people back in 2004 in Bushy Park, Teddington is now a worldwide event which has been known to encourage even the most dedicated of couch potatoes to get moving. It must be the most successful uptake of people exercising since Zumba classes or when the country had Olympic fever. Park Run is an amazing concept and well attended events often occupy to capacity some parks for a few hours on a Saturday and for some locations Sunday mornings for junior runs.

I’m sure most will agree that there should be access to ‘tax free’ exercise for all, So why have same councils considered charging for these events to be run which will no doubt make it less attractive option for many?

The unprecedented increase in the use of these spaces is not sustainable in some locations. Events and have taken over some parks damaging footpaths not built to sustain the wear of hundreds of people and shorting the intended life span of the path, grass areas churned up as paths are too narrow to accommodate the numbers people at any one time, Overflowing car parks with cars parked on grass verges and under trees which is essentially causing thousands of pounds of damage. Some of the venues just can’t cope and the damage the grounds can be extensive and at some point may no longer be suitable for the runs. Repairs will be inevitably be required so arguably isn’t an event free of financial obligations, not really. Some local authorities are already incorporating parking charges at event locations that where once free.

Wimpole Estate Parkrun

If the councils don’t charge who pays for it….the NHS, Sponsors and private donations. Budgets for maintaining parks and open spaces are at an all-time low as they are not classes as statutory service such as refuse collection that the council have to provide. Yet in contrast there is an increased need to get people outdoors, to be sociable, to get active to reconnect with nature. The health benefits of access to quality spaces is well documented and the message seems be getting through to people. The problem appears to be the funding.

  • Are councils right to consider collecting revenue to supplement diminished maintenance budgets and to pay for the repairs caused by the events?
  • Should Councils accept the increase in use of these parks?
  • Should parks and open spaces be a Statuary responsibility due to the health benefits these spaces can offer everyone?
  • As designers how can we and should we try and accommodate the trends, the changes in society and the way we utilise these spaces? Can we make predictions about the future uses of open spaces that set them up to be sustainable?
  • Do we still use these spaces in the same as we did in the 1900’s and if we do is that because it’s all the designs allow for? Is it time to break with the traditional concept of parks?
The debate continues….

Let us know what you think via our social media streams.

Twitter: @lizlakedesigner



Three minute interview…Steve Woodhouse

Brief introduction, name, job title, location.

Steve Woodhouse, Lead 3D artist, 3D Animator & videographer. Stansted Office. I joined Liz Lake in 2005.


When you were at school what did you want to be and why?

I always really enjoyed track and field sports at school & loved the film making process (Behind the scenes etc.) So a job creating 3D visuals was a good foot in the door.


How did you get to be where you are today?

I came in as a junior & progressed to creating a multi-disciplinary 3D division developing basic proposals to detailed photomontages.


What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most, and why?

The diversity of work is very important to me! Developing & expanding the 3D department is my main drive.


What is your proudest achievement?

Landing my first animation contract with Disney Juniors & seeing it in action felt great!

Laps around Daytona is a close 2nd


What is the best advice you’ve been given in life?

Happy wife, happy life.


What is your next adventure / goal?

Hit the best downhill MTB runs in Slovenia this year & expand our 3D & filming operations.


See some of Steves work here

Three minute interview…Oliver Chapman

In a series of interviews we chat quickly with the latest member of the Liz Lake Associates team, Senior Chartered Landscape architect Oliver Chapman.

Brief introduction, name, job title, location.

Oliver Chapman, Senior Chartered Landscape Architect, Nottingham Office. I joined Liz Lake in November 2017.

When you were at school what did you want to be and why?

I don’t think I knew! It was always going to be something design related and I was always good at geography, so I suppose becoming a Landscape Architect was a hidden destiny!

Or a rock star…

How did you get to be where you are today?

On the bus… That and hard work.

What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most, and why?

Difficult to say really. You get different satisfactions from different aspects of the job which is the joy of it, every day is different!

What is your proudest achievement?

That’s a toss up between getting my chartership or being there when one of your projects is officially completed. We’re privileged to design and build the environment that we all live in so when you feel like you have got it right it’s a great feeling.

What is the best advice you’ve been given in life?

Work will always be there tomorrow.

What is your next adventure / goal?

Looking to buy my first house in 2018

Oliver Chapman

Three Minute Interview…Andrew Cottage

Brief introduction, name, job title, location.

I am Andy Cottage, I’m a Senior Associate with Liz Lake Associates and I lead our Nottingham office.

When you were at school what did you want to be and why?

When I was at school the plan was to become a Zoo Vet and then to take over from David Attenborough when he hung up his boots. Luckily, I chose a different career path because he’s still going (and thank goodness for that!).

How did you get to be where you are today?

I studied Landscape Architecture at Thames Polytechnic (now Greenwich University) under Tom Turner. Geoffrey Jellicoe visited from time to time and I loved my time there. As part of the course we spent three weeks in Lisbon working with our Portuguese equivalents. We visited many quintas and I developed a love for the agrarian landscape – beauty and edibleness in one place – what could be more satisfying?!

What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most, and why?

I enjoy the fact that every day is different. As part of my drive to develop a diverse client base I do lots of networking and I enjoy meeting new people and finding innovative ways of working together. I like to make the most out of any project and will seek out opportunities that maybe others would miss. I also like to give colleagues opportunities so that they can grow and develop to their fullest potential.

What is your proudest achievement?

I am proud of many things. Establishing a new office in Nottingham and seeing it grow; winning awards for projects that I have been a part of; seeing people enjoying one of our projects; seeing the benefits that great schemes can deliver to communities……………… the list goes on and on.

What is the best advice you’ve been given in life?

Give it your best shot – what’s the worst that could happen?

What is your next adventure / goal?

The next goal is to make sure that the Nottingham office is stable and secure (do I sound like Theresa May?!). To do this we have taken on some great talent and will continue to keep our clients satisfied by delivering really good work.


Stansted Mountfitchet War Memorial

Whenever we can we like to work on projects in the local area that the Parish Council presents to us. Stansted Mountfitchet still retains its charm and has many historic elements, particularly along Chapel Hill and Lower Street which fall under the village’s Conservation Area. Stansted Mountfitchet War Memorial is found at St Johns Church on Chapel Hill. This still forms and poignant place for reflection and a place to congregate for Remembrance Day.

Stansted Mountfitchet Parish Council approached us to revamp the Memorial. The path was becoming tired with rotting timber edging boards flanked by high maintenance bedding displays, changed twice annually. Benches not accessible to some visitors with mobility issues and gravel pathways that were converging with the grass. In essence, the Memorial still served its purpose, but was looking tired whilst doing so.


Our work looked at developing subtle design improvements that would sit well in the Conservation Area. The materials had to be durable and if possible reduce the cost of maintenance as Council budgets are continually squeezed. We produced two design options, very similar in their form, but one proposing a slightly more expensive scheme with more opportunity for seating.

Here are the proposed options:

Option 1

Stansted War Memorial Option one Stansted War Memorial Option one ZOOMED

Option 2


Stansted War Memorial Option two Stansted War Memorial Option two ZOOMED

The local Secondary School performed a small public consultation on behalf of the Parish Council to gauge public perception of those passing by the site. It was very strange being asked what I thought about the design that I had drawn…

The implemented scheme is a combination of the two design options. Some elements have not been installed, but this is at the discretion of our Client. What can be said is that the new design is a great improvement and the site looks rejuvenated. Further to this, the memorial will be professionally cleaned and the stone engravings made clearer in time for Remembrance Day 2017.  An uplighter has been installed so that the floodlight could be removed and the planting is no longer annuals, instead perennials and roses now border the path.

It was a pleasure to work on such a project and give something back to our community.