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Beyond the Green Belt – a major exhibition at the building centre

16 March - 27 April 2016

A major exhibition that looks into the future of the Green Belt curated by The Built Environment Trust and the Landscape Institute, examines a topic at the centre of both conservation and housing crisis discussions, with a Government consultation on planning currently having Green Belt alterations as a key potential action area.

Beyond The Green Belt looks at the long genesis of the Green Belt and brings it up to date with an expression of the current conflict. A related talks programme will bring this debate into life. The exhibition concludes with projects and questions that look to constructively develop Green Belt thinking.

Noel Farrer, President of the Landscape Institute, comments: "The Green Belt is often criticised for its poor environmental quality and for impeding house building, inflating land prices and frustrating transport infrastructure but it is also a vital bulwark against unfettered urban sprawl. Many organisations and policy makers have proposed vastly opposing approaches, from tightening rules over development to scrapping the planning designation altogether. This exhibition can help us come to our own views on the best way forward."

The show sets out to explain the background to Green Belt and then explore the more innovative approaches to working with Green Belt environments, including learning from international approaches and current examples in the UK. This exhibition also encourages the public to share their views on what should happen next with the Green Belt. A series of free public events during the exhibition’s run will delve further into the debate, bringing together expert speakers to explore the practicalities of current legislation, deliberate the polarised arguments and share ambitious ideas for the future.

Find out more about the exhibition



Beauty, function and sustainability in an age of austerity

How can we create beautiful, sustainable landscapes in an age of austerity?


The Landscape Institute’s 2016 Annual Conference addressed the highly topical question of how landscape architects can continue to create beautiful, sustainable landscapes at a time when budget constraints, particularly in the public sector, and could lead to a reductive focus on function.

The event on Thursday 3 and Friday 4 March was hosted in Sheffield in partnership with the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape. This two-day CPD event included thought-provoking talks from a distinguished roster of speakers (see below for details) and a selection of breakout CPD sessions on specific and practical topics. Site visits on Friday allowed delegates to see the most interesting recent landscape projects in and around Sheffield. There was also a dinner and drinks reception to provide an opportunity for networking.

Presentations from the sessions will be available soon.



10:00am - Welcome

Noel Farrer (LI) and Professor James Hitchmough (University of Sheffield)


10:30am What is beauty? - history, evolution and theory

Noel Farrer addressed the title question, focusing on the history of beauty. Professor Brian Evans (Glasgow School of Art) talked about how the sublime and the picturesque contribute to beauty, and Clare Rishbeth (University of Sheffield) focused on what constitutes beauty in a super-diverse society.

11:30am - Tea break

12:00pm - The pursuit of beauty: a core objective or a trivial add-on?

Professor Nigel Dunnett (University of Sheffield) challenged us about the possible dangers for the profession of pursuing beauty as a sole objective; Anna Jorgensen (University of Sheffield) highlighted the potential impacts of forgetting about beauty in landscape architecture; Erin Gianferrara (eftec) talked about the value of beauty from an economic point of view and Alan Carter (The Land Trust) examined the value of beauty to their work. Merrick Denton-Thompson FLI joined the panel for the Q&A.

1:00pm - Lunch

2:00pm - Does a focus on function lead to an interest only in the bottom line?

Andrew Grant (Grant Associates) provided insights from his work in the UK and abroad persuading clients and landscape architects of the value of function, beauty and the bottom line. He also showcased the work that his practice is undertaking on the Sheffield University master plan.

2:45pm - Do we all have a right to beauty in an age of austerity?

Caroline Julian (ResPublica) explored the title of the session in relation to ‘A Community Right to Beauty: Giving communities the power to shape, enhance and create beautiful places, buildings and spaces’ to outline why ResPublica want to restore beauty to the heart of public policy and local planning. Their aim is not simply to introduce new legislation but to foster a long-term cultural shift. Simon Ogden (Sheffield City Council) responded by examining the public sector's view of prioritising beauty in an age of austerity.

3:30pm - Tea break

4:00pm - What role does beuaty play in planning, designing and reviewing landscape?

Clare Devine (Design Council CABE) outliend how Design Council CABE deals with beauty in Design Review; Chris Bolton (Natural England) and Jenifer White (Historic England) discussed what significance and consideration is given to ‘beauty’ in their work; Ian Houlston (LDA Design) looked at conceptions of beauty in relation to designated landscapes and David Caulfield (Sheffield City Council) gave an overview of the City's public realm programme, which seemed to prioritise beauty as it transformed the city centre.

5:15pm - Women in the Built Environment Sector panel discussion

Romy Rawlings (Frosts Landscape), Mary O'Connor (WYG) and Michelle Bolger (Michelle Bolger Expert Landscape Consultancy) led a panel discussion on issues around being a woman working in the built environment sector.

Presentations from the sessions will be available soon.



A full timetable for day two, along with summaries of each session, is given here.

Some presentations are available to download - see right of the page for list of those available.




Kate Ahern is Director of Landscape Planning at LUC. Kate is skilled in approaches to characterisation and landscape and visual impact assessment and has particular experience in the application of landscape character assessment to decision-making. 

Helen Allen is Director of Hada and has been a key contributor to the BSI publication: Inclusive Urban Design: A guide to creating accessible public spaces. She originally trained as a furniture designer/maker and then as a landscape architect to pursue her passion for design and ‘place making’ with a view to creating exciting and sustainable landscapes and public realm.


Stephanie Bird is an RHS/Roehampton PhD student.

Stephanie’s research interests include plant interactions, biodiversity and conservation and she has previously published work on the effect of light pollution on the ability of male glow worms (Lampyris noctiluca) to locate females. She joined the Royal Horticultural Society as a PhD student in 2011and in her current role, as a scientist in plant health, she has had the opportunity to continue her research and is currently assisting on a project exploring resource provision for pollinating insects in gardens.


Chris Bolton is Head of Profession, Landscape at Natural England. Natural England is the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England, helping to protect England’s nature and landscapes for people to enjoy and for the services they provide.

Helen Bostock is Senior Horticultural Adviser, Royal Horticultural Society. As well as her role as advisor, Helen is manager of the RHS ‘Plants for Bugs’ project, a long term study into the value of native and non-native garden planting for invertebrates. The first paper focusing on pollinators was published in August 2015 in the Journal of Applied Ecology and her article outlining the results for gardeners in RHS journal The Garden, won the Garden Media Guild’s 2015 Environmental Award. Helen is also a trustee of the Wildlife Gardening Forum and works closely with The Wildlife Trust on their joint project, ‘Wild about Gardens’. She is involved in developing the RHS Perfect for Pollinator plant lists.


Alan Carter is Head of Portfolio Management at The Land Trust. Alan is responsible for the Trust's estates portfolio, ensuring that the Trust’s sites, which include Liverpool Festival Gardens and Northumberlandia, deliver measurable and sustainable impacts across all its five charitable aims. He was previously at British Waterways as a business development manager.

Andrée Davies is a Director of Davies White Ltd. Andrée is a RHS Gold Medal award winning Landscape Architect and studied at Leeds Metropolitan University between 1986 and 1992. Andrée is a graduate of the English Gardening School at the Chelsea Physic Garden and has been guest lecturer at the Royal College of Art.


Clare Devine is Director of the Design Council Cabe with  over 25 years’ experience in architecture. She has been a director of three practices working in housing, regeneration, education, public, civic and cultural buildings.


Professor John Dover is an ecologist with over 30 years’ experience and is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Insect Conservation, and author of Green Infrastructure: Incorporating Plants and Enhancing Biodiversity in Buildings and Urban Environments.

Professor Nigel Dunnett is Professor of Planting Design and Vegetation Technology at the University of Sheffield, and Director of The Green Roof Centre. His areas of research include green roofs, rain gardens, pictorial meadows, and naturalistic planting design.


Professor Brian Evans is Professor of Urbanism and Landscape at The Glasgow School of Art, and founder member of Glasgow Urban Lab. He was also a partner at Gillespies for over 25 years.

Noel Farrer is President of the Landscape Institute and director of Farrer Huxley Landscape Architects.

Mary Fisher of LDA Design has specialist expertise in onshore wind and Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) and also acts as an expert witness at planning inquiries. She leads the LDA Design Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and LVIA services.


Andrew Grant of Grant Associates is currently developing the Sheffield masterplan. He is known for a creative approach to ecological/sustainable landscape design and he led the design team on the £500 million Gardens by the Bay project at Bay South in Singapore. The 54-hectare park explores the technical boundaries of landscape and horticulture in an Asian city and won the Building Project of the Year Award at the 2012 World Architecture Festival.


Professor James Hitchmough is Head of the Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield. He designed the naturalistic planting in the Southern Hemisphere Garden at the iconic London Olympic Park.


Ian Houlston is an Associate at LDA Design and is a multi-award winning landscape architect and archaeologist with specialist expertise in the contextual design of large and complex development projects in sensitive locations.

Edward Hutchison has over 40 years’ experience in landscape architecture and has exhibited drawings and work at the Garden Museum. His 2011 fully illustrated reference book based on the importance of hand drawings in design process, ‘‘Drawing for Landscape Architecture’, has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese and was voted by an American Architectural website as one of the top 10 inspiration design books of the year.


Anna Jorgensen is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield with research interests on the ways in which different people experience, interact with, understand and represent landscape, especially wild or natural-looking vegetation.


Caroline Julian is Deputy Director, Head of Policy and Strategy at ResPublica, which produced the report ‘A Community Right to Beauty: Giving communities the power to shape, enhance and create beautiful places, buildings and spaces’.

Tim O’Hare has been a professional soil scientist for eighteen years and is also a council member of the Institute of Professional Soil Scientists and sits on the British Standards Institute’s working group Topsoil and other Growing Media.


Clare Rishbeth is a Lecturer in Landscape Architecture at the University of Sheffield with a research focus on cultural diversity in landscape experience and design, in regard to the urban environment.


Keith Sacre is Sales Director of Barcham Trees and Vice Chair of the Arboricultural Association and member of the Trees and Design Action Group. Keith is a Chartered Arboriculturist and holds an MSc in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry. Keith led the development of the new British Standard BS 8545:2014 Trees: from nursery to independence in the landscape. In 2014 he received the Arboricultural Association Award for his continuing services to arboriculture.

Olaf Schroth is a Lecturer at the University of Sheffield in landscape planning, specialising in developing and testing technologies for environmental modelling and landscape visualisation. His work covers landscape and visual impact assessment, GIS, landscape visualisation and the impact of climate change adaptation.


Suzanne Simmons is a CIRIA Project Manager.  CIRIA is the construction industry research and information association. It is an a neutral, independent not-for-profit body, linking organisations with common interests to facilitate collaborative activities to help improve the industry.

Alan Simson is a chartered landscape architect and urban forester with extensive professional experience in the UK. He is currently Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Forestry at Leeds Beckett University and has led several European urban forestry research projects on behalf of the UK.

Colin Stuart of Dewar Stuart Associates Ltd. Colin’s career in local authorities has included Head of Service positions encompassing parks and green spaces, countryside and coastal management, landscape and environmental services and associated services and facilities. Since 2011 he has been running his own interim management and consultancy company delivering a range of services to local authority, charitable and private sector organisations. He was a trustee of Urban Parks Forum, then Greenspace from 1999 to 2012.

Clare Warburton is Senior Transport Specialist at Natural England. Clare is an expert on the interrelationships between transport and the natural environment, particularly with regard to transport policy and planning; environmental opportunities/impacts arising from transport development; and managing transport’s green infrastructure.  She manages Natural England’s transport evidence programme.

Adam White is a Director of Davies White Ltd and a Fellow of the Landscape Institute. He is also a RHS Gold Medal and BBC People’s Choice Award winning landscape architect. He studied at Manchester Met University and in 2012 he became the youngest ever Fellow of the Landscape Institute and is author of the publication ‘Nature Play: the designers guide’. Since 2008 he has been Director at Davies White Ltd, an award winning practice that specialise in the creation of bespoke nature play spaces.


Jenifer White is a national landscape adviser at Historic England. Historic England is the public body that looks after England's historic environment. They champion historic places, helping people understand, value and care for them. 




CPD sessions:

> fracturing landscapes - hydraulic fracturing and other new energy technologies with Olaf Schroth of the University of Sheffield

View presentation

> natural play with Adam White of Davies White Associates

> the sublime and the picturesque in the contemporary context with Professor Brian Evans of The Glasgow School of Art

> drawing for landscape architecture from sketch to screen to site with Edward Hutchison

> soil specification and testing with Institute of Professional Soil Scientists’ council member, Tim O’Hare of Tim O’Hare Associates

> using green walls in the urban environment to deliver ecosystem services with Professor John Dover of Staffordshire University

View presentation

> benefits that trees can bring to Urban Futures with Professor Alan Simson of Leeds Beckett University

View presentation

> building green bridges with Kate Ahern of LUC and Clare Warburton of Natural England

View presentation

> inclusive design with Helen Allen from hada/David Bonnett Associates

> closing the gap - how to select trees with Keith Sacre of Barcham trees

> CIRIA’s SuDS guidance with Suzanne Simmons of CIRIA

> proportionality guidance with Mary Fisher of LDA Design

> writing for Landscape with the editor Ruth Slavid

View presentation

> economic benefits of investing in the environment with Thomas Harle and Tim Sutherland of Natural England 
























































































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