Landscape Architect, Carly Tinkler, uncovers an exciting new neighbourhood development project taking place in Ledbury and how you can get involved
Would you be interested in being part of an unusual ‘experiment’?
As far as I’m aware, what we’re doing is unique. Under expert professional guidance, local volunteers are producing a Technical Landscape and Visual Assessment for their own Neighbourhood Development Plan, and establishing the vision for their parish in 2050.
Now we’re looking for landscape professionals, practitioners and students to record the process, beginning with an LSCA workshop in Ledbury on 18 March.
In 2019, I was asked by Ledbury Town Council to submit a fee proposal for carrying out a Landscape Sensitivity and Capacity Assessment (LSCA) to form part of the evidence-base required for their Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP).
Unfortunately, the quotes they received were well beyond their budget, but I had a suggestion: local people could undertake the baseline landscape character and visual studies themselves, under my guidance. Initially, they looked at me as if I was mad – but reluctantly agreed to give it a trial.
In January 2020, I set up ‘LSCA Topic Groups’ and volunteers were drafted in. I explained what we were doing and why, giving them examples, templates and maps. The instructions were straightforward: go out and record ‘what’s there’.
As time went by, I kept being asked for hard copies of OS maps, and noticed people walking around the town with them as though they’d become the latest fashion accessory! Soon, more and more people came forward saying they’d like to help.
Then, the draft baseline sections began coming in. I was astounded by what I was reading.
Despite most volunteers being no more than ‘keen amateurs’, their submissions were of a higher quality than many LVIAs I’ve reviewed. In fact, there is now so much clarity about why we’re doing this process, as well as widespread enthusiasm, that the volunteers will now also assist with the technical sensitivity and capacity studies and draw up recommendations (many of which will become draft NDP policies / future projects).
In addition, early on it became clear that what was also needed was a cohesive plan for a vision of ‘Ledbury in 2050’, taking into account how people might be living working and travelling by then, plus the various requirements associated with the increase in population and climate change.
This exercise is now underway, and the plan will be informed by the LSCA’s findings.
One of the volunteers has only lived in the area for two years, and although daunted by the task at first, said to me recently that she was really enjoying it as getting to know the parish was ‘making her feel at home’.
Someone mentioned how the project had shifted the ‘mood’ in the town from pessimism to optimism. I heard someone else say, “We’re learning the language of landscape”. Those comments alone have made the journey so far very worthwhile.
If you would like to get involved, contact Carly Tinkler (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Carly Tinkler is a Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute (CMLI), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), and a Member of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (MIALE). She specialises in landscape, environmental and colour assessment / planning, masterplanning and design.