Change public attitudes to infrastructure services by interdisciplinary support, landscape architects argue

Landscape professionals must work together to convince the public that infrastructure services can enhance rather than spoil the landscape.

In the third of a series of debates organised by the Landscape Institute called Landscape Futures, delegates heard LDA Design partner Alister Kratt emphasise the importance of landscape professionals leading the industry forward with architects, engineers, consultants, builders and others working together better.

He said: "Infrastructure projects do not need to be led by engineers with us all hanging on. Most projects are bigger than any single consultancy. We need to work together between the disciplines."

London Legacy Development director of design integration Selina Mason agreed with him. She
explained that when she worked on the Olympic Park there was an array of different infrastructure under the ground and it would have been easier if there had been one trench for all the different works.

She said: "We should have had them all working together, but a legal agreement between all the different utilities companies would have taken too long."

The speakers also talked about the importance of educating the public about the need for infrastructure and being honest about works that are taking place.

Landmark Chambers joint head Tim Mould mentioned the negativity of public attitudes towards infrastructure that has been common in the past few years.

He said: "We are an increasingly service-based economy and infrastructure is not part of our national mindset. We need to change attitudes. People need to believe infrastructure contributes to the national good. We can overcome public cynicism by having confidence in our profession."

The speakers viewed mitigation as unnecessary and believed it showed infrastructure in a negative light. Mason believed that if people were educated about the need for the new builds and the positive effects it would have for the public there would be no need to mitigate.

She said: "We shouldn’t be aiming to mitigate the impact. In fact we should stop talking about the impact of infrastructure altogether. It reads like a car crash, especially in the countryside, were the belief that any infrastructure works will be a bad thing is strong. We should talk about the effects any changes might have instead. There are always positive ones."

The panel thought that educating the public about the need for infrastructure should start early,
with children being taught about its necessity in geography lessons at school.

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