Assessing how a proposed development could affect the existing landscape setting is an important part of the planning process. But it is not always simple for non-specialists to know how to go about commissioning the right report to accompany their planning application. The terms Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) and Landscape and Visual Appraisal (LVA) are often used interchangeably. This can be confusing for people within the landscape industry and even more perplexing for those outside of the industry needing to commission a study. This article explores the difference between the two types of report and considers when each one might be needed.
Both LVIAs and LVAs are studies carried out to consider the effects that proposed developments will have on landscape views and landscape character. If you need one of these studies as part of your planning application, the local planning authority will inform you of this at the pre-application stage.
What is an LVIA?
An LVIA will be required for any development likely to have a significant character or visual effect on an existing landscape. For large developments that have gone through the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening process, an LVIA will usually be requested by the relevant planning authority. This will then form part of a larger document containing reports from other professionals such as ecologists, hydrologists, and heritage consultants.
An LVIA can also be requested for projects that do not require an EIA and, in this case, the LVIA will be a standalone document. In either case, an LVIA must assess the significance of any potential character or visual effects and should be carried out by a Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute (CMLI).
What is an LVA?
LVAs may also be requested to accompany a planning application by a local planning authority. These reports still consider the potential character and visual effects of a proposed development but will often be less detailed and there is no requirement for them to give a judgement on the significance of effects. Although there is no formal requirement for an LVA to be carried out by a CMLI, it is certainly recommended.
How We Can Help
At WWA we are experienced in writing many different forms of landscape assessment and are happy to advise which type is best suited to your project. In our experience, developments that consider potential effects at an early stage are more likely to achieve planning permission and ultimately lead to higher quality schemes which fit into the landscape.