Reader Panel - Should developers get tax breaks for including landscaping in projects?

New Society of Garden Designers chair Charles Rutherfoord has called for developers to be given tax breaks for including landscape in housing, retail and office schemes. He said the UK should follow the example of the USA where commercial developments receive tax incentives for including art and sculpture. We asked industry figures whether they agreed.

Nursery director

"We want to see landscape enforced in all development, so giving developers a helping hand is good.

"It's nice to think that developers would include landscape, but if there is a way of not putting it in, it would be found. I doubt that the Government would contemplate such tax breaks in the current climate. It would be low on the agenda.

"In theory, Rutherfoord is right, but, in practice, I doubt that it would happen."

James Coles, managing director, James Coles & Sons

Institute chief

"It would be difficult not to be supportive of something that helps firms in difficult times. I'd have concerns about the sustainability of what went in - developers could put something down that wasn't thought through and this could lead to maintenance problems later on.

"Developers could find a way of taking the tax break without doing the job properly. We would support firm proposals, but I don't think there would be significant beneficial results."

Alastair McCapra, chief executive, Landscape Institute

Nursery director

"It's a good idea and I was disappointed it wasn't included in the draft National Planning Policy Framework. In the original NPPF discussions the Horticultural Trades Association had with the government, the government backed the idea.

"A tax break would make developers focus on the green elements. You see this more in Holland and Germany where housing is mixed with commercial development."

Andrew Richardson, director, Johnsons of Whixley

Landscape director

"Investment in landscaping is at its poorest in the public sector - for example, urban social housing. Also, with the new schools programme, investment in the quality of the landscape has been poor.

"But tax breaks won't work there. My worry is that if you give developers tax breaks, they won't spend it on that landscape. Also, the mechanism needed to administer it would be expensive. In principle I agree, but in reality I have reservations."

Noel Farrer, director of Farrer Huxley.


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