The appointment has been made following a competitive tender process conducted on behalf of the National Trust by the Landscape Institute.
The main line of High Speed 2 between Birmingham and Leeds is planned to pass through the National Trust’s estate at Hardwick, which attracts more than 200,000 visitors a year.
The current plans take the railway within around 100 metres of Hardwick’s Registered Park and Garden, forging a corridor up to 300 metres wide and more than two kilometres long through Hardwick’s productive and naturally sensitive estate.
The Hardwick estate is already affected by the M1 motorway, and so requires particular care to protect it from insensitive or inappropriate development, says the Trust.
Early in 2016, the National Trust asked four landscape-led, multi-disciplinary practices to set out their vision for Hardwick, according to the Trust’s priorities for the estate and understanding of the impacts of HS2.
The judging panel, chaired by parks consultant Peter Neal, selected Cookson and Tickner as the preferred specialists, as they presented an "imaginative, sensitive and cost-aware set of feasible solutions to minimise HS2’s impact on the Hardwick estate".
This included issues such as visual impact, access to Hardwick on roads and public rights of way, noise impact, protecting and connecting Hardwick for visitors and wildlife through land use, landscape design, hydrology and geology.
Denise Edwards, general manager at Hardwick Hall, said: "If HS2 is built along this route, there will be highly significant and detrimental impacts on Hardwick’s internationally important heritage, and precious much visited natural places. Enormous care must be taken by the Government to make sure that these negative impacts are not only brief in duration but also mitigated with such thoroughness and sensitivity that befits Hardwick’s history and its future for people and for wildlife."
Andy Beer, regional director at the National Trust, added: "HS2 presents a huge challenge to the protection of Hardwick, and many other places along its route. The scale of this challenge, when combined with the sensitivity of Hardwick, means that we cannot afford not to be proactive finding how to best protect this wonderful place.
"The National Trust is an expert custodian of its places, but the uniqueness of HS2’s challenges have required us to find a partner who can find and design balanced, innovative, complete and fully feasible ways to actively protect Hardwick in an ‘HS2 future’."
The Trust is now working with Cookson & Tickner and their team of landscape designers and experts in ecology, land-use, rail, highway and conservation engineering, acoustics and geology, to refine the proposals they have made to mitigate the impact of HS2 at Hardwick. These proposals, which are expected to be ready by the end of 2016, will then be discussed with local communities, stakeholders and the Government.