Politicians are concerned with outcomes. They want less crime and fewer people in jail. They want us all to be healthy. They want educational attainment and they want people in work. They strive to create a thriving economy to pay for it all.
Politicians promote investment where these outcomes are met and support initiatives that reduce the associated costs. Government also has responsibility for the environment. They see this as a cost to be borne and let’s not kid ourselves that this is at the top of the agenda, because it isn’t.
Landscape practitioners need to speak beyond environmental imperatives focusing on the political outcomes so our work contributes to a healthier population, thereby reducing the health bill. Through the creation of popular and safe places, landscapes contribute towards reducing crime. They also make a positive contribution to better education. Landscape is an industry delivering skills, training and work. It also happens to be good for the environment.
I am involved in a scheme to improve the environment of a rundown housing estate in a deprived northern town. It is a landscape scheme that has political outcomes. These include seeing unoccupied houses brought back into use.
That is economically and politically important. Creating a desirable place where people feel safe, thereby reducing perceived and actual crime levels. Promoting a place that people will respect, not dumping litter or letting their dogs foul the pavements, saving the council’s limited revenue budget. Finally, improving the mental and physical health of the community through encouraging social interaction and use of the great outdoors.
We must be clear about the outcomes of what we do and then work much harder to persuade Government it is our industry that delivers their political ambitions.
Noel Farrer is a founding partner of Farrer huxley associates