Toughening up landscape message

Earlier this year, delegates at a Landscape Institute conference debated the danger of focusing too much on "beauty" when promoting the benefit of good landscape design - a practice that speaker Nigel Dunnett warned fed into age-old stereotypes of landscape being nothing more than "a decorative add-on".

He told the event: "That is the perception from outside. It's this idea that landscape fills the space between buildings, softening the built environment. It comes last and it is most susceptible to value engineering and cutbacks."

It's a trap that has been avoided by those responsible for the Hanham Hall development, a scheme with a landscape that HTA Design partner James Lord is keen to stress "has a serious job to do". Lord explains: "It's a functioning landscape - respecting heritage, providing amenity value and dealing with environmental issues. It is not only there to look good."

In the latest of our Landscape4Places campaign case studies, we look at how Hanham Hall's landscape has been integral to the creation of community at the development while addressing environmental needs - and adding monetary value to the properties on the estate. Highlights include integration of front gardens with public realm, encouraging people to "come home and sit in their front gardens on a summer evening and chat to their neighbours".

Meanwhile, a money-saving system of natural water management sees rainwater collected in a bio-swale running along a central vista on the estate that then flows downhill to a retention pond from where it is discharged. Green amenities including a village green, play spaces, grassland, glasshouses, allotments and orchard have helped the homes to command premium prices.

For more, and for other fascinating case studies from our campaign, go to

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