The following considerations need to be applied when drafting any landscape proposals required in order to allow for the discharge of standard landscape condition(s) on major developments (as applicable):
1.1 Any landscape proposals need to take account of, and generally complement, the existing structure, pattern and character of the landscape local to the site in question; this to ensure its compatibility with the established wider landscape structure, particularly with relation to tree cover, external works and enclosure. Where the landscape is in a deteriorated condition, proposals should look to strengthen and reintroduce relevant landscape characteristics.
1.2 When detail landscape proposals are formally submitted to the Council, they are checked by the Landscape Advisor to ensure the Council’s design ambitions are met, and against any current requirements, i.e. the/any strategic proposals agreed at the planning application stage, relevant policies, recommendations and guidelines at a national and a local level. This may result in amendments being required by the Council in order to meet these requirements before the scheme can be fully agreed.
1.3 Generally, the services of a Landscape Consultant (preferably a member of the Landscape Institute) should be considered when compiling landscape proposals required in order to satisfy planning conditions.
2.0 Generic design requirements
2.1 Where detailed landscape proposals are required then, as a minimum, these need to comply with the Council’s following baseline standard requirements (as applicable):
2.2 Proposals need to comprise copies of co-ordinated and numbered drawing(s) (plan(s) and if applicable sections) to a clearly readable scale, including a transparent development site boundary line, clear and concise layout of all planting and (where applicable) all external works, with a corresponding symbol key for each drawing. Where complex proposals require multiple drawings then they will need to be carefully cross-referenced against one another by the issuing agent to make sure they are compatible with and match one another.
2.3 Planting proposals need to include clear and concise layout, type, location/spacing and sizes for all planting, plant schedule (using botanic names to avoid misinterpretation) and implementation specifications (see section 3 below). Where full landscape (rather than just planted proposals) are required, then these proposals need to also include details of external works, including clear and concise layout, type and location of hard surfacing, furniture, fittings etc. - see section 3 below.
2.4 Proposals need to include an implementation & (if conditioned) monitoring programme – see section 4 below.
2.5 If separately conditioned proposals need to include a management plan for any public/communal/shared space - see section 5 below.
2.6 All proposed specifications/clauses within landscape specification, management plans or implementation & monitoring programmes need to be titled and numbered in sequence for clarity when cross-referencing.
2.7 Proposals need to include topographic detail on the proposed landscape plan(s), e.g., existing & proposed spot heights. This in order that any changes in level can be assessed against the landscape proposals. There should be no more than a 15-degree mown grass slope on site (for reasons of ease of maintenance), where there is a mown grass slope of over 15-degrees or there are retaining walls or dramatic changes in level (e.g., ditch-lines) existing or proposed on site, they will need to be clearly identified and illustrated on plan, through sectional elevations and if appropriate a design justification given.
2.8 Recessive colour schemes and recessive natural materials need to be proposed for development in sensitive rural/rural edge locations, this to help development recess into and complement its landscape setting.
3.0 Generic soft landscape, hard landscape/external works, public open space and implementation specifications requirements
3.1 Soft Landscape
3.2 Any native planting proposals need to closely complement the composition and structure of the existing landscape locally, particularly through the use of locally occurring native plant species, this in order to provide cover complementary to Colchester’s individual landscape Character Areas and best suit locally prevailing climatic conditions. As a modification to this requirement however, rural native hedge planting would generally be expected to be proposed as a single species hedge (usually Crataegus Monogyna), as this defines the hedgerow structure whilst allowing for a more natural colonisation over time.
3.2a The Council welcomes ecologically rich planting proposals to accord with BREEAM accreditation, but as recommended under BREEAM LE 03 such planting needs to be compatible with 'appropriate design'. If proposed ecologically rich planting is not considered by the Council, in part or whole, as appropriate in landscape design terms (being, for instance, considered inappropriate in terms of local landscape character) then it cannot be allowed to compromise the design as a whole or in part, as a balance needs to be maintained between all the elements of the landscapes design.
3.2b Wildflower meadow areas would only be expected in suitably large, natural areas. A 2m wide mown margin needs to be left around any area of proposed wildflower meadow, this to allow adequate space to satisfactorily maintain the area. Wildflower meadow areas need to be designed and confirmed as using seed/plug mixes specifically chosen to provide a suitable foraging environment for bees and other insects, this in order to help protect and encourage locally threatened bee and insect populations.
3.4 Any tree type/position proposed needs to:
- Allow for the trees anticipated mature crown spread & height and be at a sufficient distance to avoid potential root damage to existing structures with, where applicable, allowance given for adequate light penetration into buildings, this in compliance with BS 5837.
- Ensure main stem planting positions are proposed at least 1-1.5m away from enclosure/features 1.8m high or over, this to allow the tree sufficient space to establish through to maturity.
- Ensure lighting positions (columns) are set outside the mature crown spread of existing and proposed trees, this to help avoid any future conflict between the two.
- Ensure planting positions are set away from principal drainage runs and mature spreads are set outside the impact zones of high-sided vehicles.
Note: Maturity should be considered as 25 years for trees used for early impact & fast establishment in principally domestic settings, and as full maturity for the principal trees with public amenity proposed for their long term impact and structural importance.
3.5 In order to help ensure that the above ground amenity value afforded by principal trees (principal = prominent trees with long-term public amenity value) is protected at the construction stage(s), it needs to be confirmed (verbatim), as a note on the proposal drawing, that:
‘Principal tree positions are compatible with and take precedence over service requirements.’
3.6 In order to maximise favourable conditions for establishment, any tree planting needs to preferably be designed to be within soft rather than hard landscape, i.e. within their own bed a minimum 1.5m wide (be it planted or surfaced with a self-binding permeable surface) rather than a specialist tree pit in the hardscape.
3.7 All areas of public open space (POS) and/or tree planting needs to be specified as being proactively protected from/remediated against any compaction, either existing or that associated with development, this in accordance with British Standards. Include the following specification(s) (verbatim) within the proposals drawing(s) notes, as appropriate:
For compacted POS
- To unrestricted larger service &/or root protection areas (RPA’s) free areas of POS, post-construction soil decompaction measures will comprise soil ripping sufficient to break any subsoil pan within any compacted area(s). To restricted compacted areas incorporating existing services and/or RPA’s, these areas will be secured through the erection of robust barriers and/or ground protection (erected in accordance with BS 5837 recommendations) sufficient to fully restrict/exclude access to these areas as a whole for the life of the developments construction period.
For compacted tree pits
- Individual tree decompaction within compacted areas will be achieved through excavating a wide, shallow tree pit a minimum 1.5m wide & 4m2 in area by 300-400m deep, and loosening/breaking the subsoil layer at the base of the pit for a further 300-450mm.
3.8 To help increase the visual amenity of proposed trees and help protect them from vandalism, the following specification needs to be included (verbatim) within the proposals drawing(s) notes (as appropriate):
‘All trees above half standard size within POS, open space, verges or hard landscaped areas will be underground guyed’.
3.9 Rear garden trees are generally not required as part of any proposals, other than where space would allow them to overhang the street scene at maturity.
3.10 Hard landscape/external works
- Details and the areas of all surface materials, their type, unit dimensions and colour need to be included within the proposal drawing(s) and its ‘key’. The surface materials within the public and semi-public realm needs, in the interests of legibility, to generally have a simple structure with two basic colours and material types used. The first defining shared surfaces in paviours or a material complementary to the location (usually grey), and the second for the principal highway & footway, usually in ‘blacktop’, (with overruns and ramps in granite sett); subject to Highways Authority agreement where relevant.
- Any demarcation of parking bays (other than those on private driveways) needs to be clarified and clearly illustrated on plan, these need to read as integral to and forming part of the surface material (e.g., using ‘T’ & ‘L’ concrete setts to block paving) rather than being applied over the surface (excluding bays within asphalt/macadam/blacktop areas where paint demarcation (specified as ‘thermoplastic’) is generally acceptable).
- Any kerbs and gullies need to be clearly identified on plan and where an overrun is anticipated these areas should be adequately hard landscaped, preferably in a colour/type identifying with the pedestrian realm and be shallow enough not to allow them to be parked on, i.e., they should not be able to be read as a potential parking area.
- Details (type & manufactures product reference or detail illustrative drawings) and location/line of all artefacts, enclosure and structures (railings, walls, fences, furniture, bollards, litter/dog/cigarette-end bins, other storage units, signage, lighting etc.) need to be clearly identified on the proposal drawing and included within its ‘key’. These need to be compatible to the sensitivities of their location, robust (e.g., wooden bollards need to be specified as hardwood) and generally clearly illustrated as being set within complementary hard landscape to simplify future maintenance.
- Railing enclosure needs to, as a rule of thumb, be clearly identified within the drawing(s) key as vertical bar to complement the fenestration of the built form, hoop-toped where it encloses a play area and estate railing to parkland (and more informal open space) type settings.
- Where applicable it needs to be confirmed (verbatim) on any external works drawing that:
‘Service access covers, manholes and ironworks will be aligned with block paving and (where feasible) co-ordinated with surface finishes.’.
- Generally, enclosure of private space facing public or semi-public space, e.g. onto rear parking courts, needs to be clearly identified on plan as enclosed with brick walling complementary to the development, this to ensure a suitable quality to this boundary between private space and semi-public space. All parking bays also need to be reviewed to take account of the standard requirement regarding vehicular manoeuvrability, i.e. 3m rather than 2.4m wide parking bays where they run alongside a wall or other form of enclosure (including bollards).
- All lighting positions (including those to be adopted by Highways) need to be identified on plan. All lighting, where proposed, requires a note against the lighting symbol(s) key confirming (verbatim) that: ‘All lighting proposals comply with Colchester Borough Council’s External Artificial Lighting Guidance 2012’ .. and (where applicable) ‘Where unacceptable light incursion into adjacent units is identified (particularly to bedroom windows) shuttering sufficient to minimise light incursion will be implemented.’ Lighting columns need to be clearly set outside the mature crown spreads of any existing and/or proposed trees.
- Seating needs to be clearly illustrated on plan as located a minimum 1m away from any railings or bins and any bins need to be of a closed top type.
- Small grassed areas to plot frontages, where these areas measure less than 3m square, need to be substituted with shrub planting or hard landscape as appropriate.
- It needs to be confirmed with a (verbatim) note on plan that:
‘All over-ground or underground service routes (including those for lighting) have been designed to not conflict with and lie outside the Root Protection Areas of any retained trees/hedges and the mature crown spreads of retained or proposed trees/hedges on or adjacent to the site’
Where this is not the case this needs to be clarified and any conflicting service run areas will then need to be supported through an Arboricultural Impact Assessment submitted for agreement, this in accordance with BS 5837 Recommendations.
- .Small or narrow/shallow areas of grass/planting to verges and loose or maintenance heavy planting should be avoided from a practical management point of view. This as these areas, being generally difficult to maintain, can lead to a perception of neglect by the public.
- Any possible unauthorised vehicular incursion onto soft landscape where the vehicular zones meets it, e.g. planted verges/beds or open space, needs to be countered through the proposal of such preventative features as footway, high kerbs, bollards or knee rail separation or highways restrictions, the choice of which needs to complement the setting and character of the development. In most cases this will simply mean including a drawing note confirming (verbatim) that: ‘Any exposed soft landscape areas adjacent to vehicular routes will be protected by complementary high kerbing of adequate height to prevent unauthorised vehicular incursion.’.
- Any hard-landscaped sight splays to driveways should be in the same material as the drive.
3.11 Any trees that are proposed to be planted within hard landscape areas need to be specified as being planted in specialised tree trenches/pits. Implementation of these trenches/pits should follow best practice, this illustrated through submission of detailed (plan & section) drawings. These details incorporating the relevant combination of root directors, underground guying, SUDs or automated irrigation systems & drainage mechanisms, root cells and sufficient allocation of tree soil to facilitate development of the tree to maturity. Details of vehicular tree protection should also be submitted for the trees in car park areas (e.g., a 125mm high kerb surround to the tree pit surface) and generally a permeable & self binding hard surface fill (in colour complementary to any surrounding paving), or grill, should be specified to the tree pit surface and adjacent parking bays surfaced with permeable paving (to maximise permeability). All these measures, being in line with recognised good practice, helping maximise favourable conditions for satisfactory establishment of the trees within the hardscape, in materials complementary to the tree and its surroundings.
3.12 Shallow plot frontages need to be proposed as hard landscaped (complementary with the adjacent footway) where they front main & principal access roads. Away from the principal routes this hard edge to narrow frontages should be softened through the inclusion of open soft frontages. Sufficient room needs to be left between the building face and any Highways boundary for windows to open without overhanging the Highway and to accommodate any private services within the private realm. Where plot frontages are set back (allowing for a frontage in excess of 2m+ deep) these can be laid out with soft or hard landscape but will generally need to be adequately enclosed (‘wall, railing and/or hedge of at least waist height’ i.e., 1m+). The design effect envisaged is essentially a uniform enclosed and/or hard approach to units fronting principal routes, with generally an eclectic pallet of frontages to the development beyond these principal routes, this structure helping establish a sense of place, diversity and establishment.
3.13 Public Open Space / Highways Soft Landscape
3.14 Public Open Space (POS); the following standard approach needs to be applied to any POS proposals:
- Refer to Landscape Guidance Note LIS/E for all areas of POS scheduled for adoption by the Council (contact the Council’s Landscape Advisor for copy of LIS/E).
- Confirm (verbatim) as a note on the proposal drawing/schedule that: ‘any enclosure/soft landscape within a vehicle visibility splay or pedestrian visibility splay will be no higher than 600mm at maturity’.
- All trees within the highway need to be proposed with root protection systems, with such systems clearly illustrated as a minimum 2m in from any kerb-line.
- The design of the play area to be broadly in accordance with the DCMS’s ‘Design for Play’ guidelines.
- Play equipment and play surfacing needs to reflect the underlying character/history of the site.
- Where possible play areas should not be enclosed, however where circumstances require play areas to be enclosed then they need to have a minimum two access/egress points, if enclosed by railing then this needs to be with a bow/hoop-top railing, with location identified and detail submitted for self closing gates at the access points.
- Proposed play surfacing needs to be exciting, using materials and if applicable patterns & colours complementary to the space. Play bark would usually be expected to ‘impact zones’ within softer and more ‘natural’ play areas, with more formal materials such as wet-pour or tiger mulch in harder and/or enclosed areas and around formal play equipment.
- Play areas need to be so orientated as to leave a minimum 2m grass edge between play area surface and planting (including tree(s), mounding, railings, paths etc., this to allow sufficient space for mowing maintenance.
- Seating needs to be included within the POS (particularly within play areas) and to be located a minimum 1m away from any railings or bins.
- It needs to be confirmed (verbatim) on the proposal drawing/schedule that: ‘plant selection has been specifically designed to avoid thorny material next to grassed areas used for play’.
- All railings (including knee-rail), seating, lighting, bins and other relevant external works within soft landscape areas need to be specified as set within a complementary hard landscape strip/apron to ease maintenance operations and help prevent mower damage.
- The location of POS maintenance gates and corresponding drop kerbs need to be clearly identified on plan (generally a minimum 1 per area of POS), these need to be separate from any pedestrian access, of transit width and leading onto a reinforced apron (e.g. reinforced grass matting) of sufficient size to accommodate a maintenance vehicle (transit & trailer footprint), these reinforced area(s) also need to be separate from any pedestrian route and have space left within the design behind them to safely unload maintenance equipment. The gate (or lockable drop bollard(s) needs to match the proposed enclosure (with illustrative detail submitted).
- A suitable number of dog and litter bins need to be included to service each area of recreational POS. The Council’s Street Services Infrastructure Guide will need to be referred to when considering bins within the design, the Council’s Parks & Recreation Team will be able to advise further on acceptable types of dog and litter bins.
- The footpaths network within the POS needs to be a minimum 2.0m wide to allow adequate room for social transition of the space. Where paths meet, the resulting angles should be rounded off and any meeting and/or exit points broadened to prevent undue wear of any soft edges at these locations.
- The height and profile of any bunds need to be confirmed (spot height and/or contour), they need to be shallow enough to allow for any standard maintenance, i.e. clearly clarified as with no more than a 15° slope.
- The finished surface level of grassed areas needs to be confirmed as being set above the height of adjacent hard surfacing to a minimum 10mm compacted level, this to enable effective mowing of the grass without the potential for damaging mower blades against kerbs.
- It needs to be confirmed (verbatim) on the proposal drawing/schedule that: ‘service access covers, manholes and ironworks are confirmed as being set outside areas of public open space’, where this is not feasible a justification needs to be given and full details of the size and location of these works submitted for consideration.
- Highway verges over 2m deep need to include bulb planting set out in organically shaped sweeps, preferably narcissi.
- Tree planting over 8-10 size need to be proposed as underground guyed to help protect public amenity.
- Solar lighting proposals need to be included to mark out pedestrian through-routes that might be used at night (but not as columns) in remote or dangerous locations.
- Include a boundary line on plan clearly defining any area(s) of POS.
3.16 Implementation Specifications:
3.17 Any proposal needs to include robust specifications in order to secure an adequate level of implementation and best ensure establishment, i.e. this specification need to be included (verbatim): on the drawing(s) as a drawing note:
- ‘All hard and soft landscape works and external works to be carried out in accordance with the relevant current British Standards (including current revisions of 4428, 3936 & 5837); National Planting Specifications Guidelines; Horticultural Trades Association Standards (including ‘Handling and establishing landscape plants’ part 1, 2 & 3); CPSE ‘Plant Handling’ Standards & COSHH Regulations.’
3.18 Clear proposals need to be made when specifying specific items, ambiguous terms such as 'or similar' (in the drawings key, specifications, etc.) will not be permitted. This as revisions to specific items within the landscape proposals post condition discharge can only be made with the LPA's agreement.
4.0 Generic implementation and monitoring requirements
4.1 An Implementation and Monitoring Programme (IMP) needs to be submitted and agreed, either on the drawing(s) or as a separate specific document (generally a simple A4 sheet), and include the following detailed clause(s), verbatim as italicised (as applicable):
- Confirming a general programme of implementation, i.e., that: ‘The agreed landscape works (including, as applicable, all hard & soft landscape works and external works agreed under condition discharge) will take place and be completed on completion or during building works and, for bare rooted stock, during the first planting season after completion of building works or prior to sale of any individual plots, whichever is the sooner.’ Specific timings are not required.
- Confirming that: ‘The implementation of areas of Public Open Space and communal space will be monitored by an independent, competent, qualified landscape consultant, and the Council will be notified in writing by that consultant once they are satisfied these spaces have been laid out fully in accordance with the agreed landscape scheme.’
- Confirming that: ‘The setting out and maintenance of landscape feature protection and the implementation of landscape schemes will be regularly and professionally monitored by the relevant competent person.’
- Confirming that: ‘Following notification of any complaint to the Council of a failure to lay the landscape out in accordance with the agreed landscape scheme, the developer will, at the request of the Council, instruct an independent, competent, qualified landscape consultant to inspect and oversee any snagging of the landscape works, and the Council will be notified in writing by that consultant once they are satisfied defective areas have been rectified and the landscape has been implemented in accordance with the agreed scheme and will request as part of the notification an inspection of the remedial works by the Council through its Landscape Consultancy Service.’
5.0 Generic landscape management requirements
5.1 Where separate condition require that a landscape management plan be submitted and agreed then the following commitment should be included (verbatim) within any revised proposal:
‘Landscape Management Plan for (add site name & planning app. number'
The agreed landscape scheme will be managed in perpetuity; it will be competently managed and works monitored by a reputable, professional landscape management company following best landscape management practice principals. It will follow a maintenance schedule sufficient to keep it well maintained, safe, tidy and in a good state of repair. The maintenance schedule will be drawn up and kept available for inspection and will include written schedules detailing (as applicable) the:
- Minimum number of maintenance visits p.a.
- Replacement of dead, dying or dangerous trees.
- Replacement of dead, dying plants.
- Replacement of distressed/failing turf.
- Weeding planted areas and topping up mulch to the agreed depths.
- Spot treatment of planted and grassed areas.
- Irrigation of planted areas.
- Grass cutting.
- Tidying of beds & pruning shrubs and trees.
- Removal of tree/shrub stakes, ties and guards when plants are stable/mature enough to no longer require support/protection.
- Leaf litter clearance
- Litter clearance, including the safe picking and removal of animal faeces.
- Wildflower area maintenance, including cutting timetable, height of cut and arisings (hay) removal
- Weed treatment, sweeping, snow clearance and tidying of hard landscaped areas.
- Repair or replacement of defective hard landscape, fencing, gates and street furniture, including graffiti removal.
- Regular inspection and emptying of dog and litter bins (timetabled so as to avoid overfilling)’
- Any other works required to keep the landscape well maintained, safe, tidy and in a good state of repair’
- Following notification of any complaint to the Council of a failure to comply with the Management Plan, the Management Company will, at the request of the Council, instruct an independent, competent, qualified landscape consultant to inspect and oversee any snagging of the maintenance works, and the Council will be notified in writing by that consultant once they are satisfied failing areas have been rectified and the landscape is being managed in accordance with the Management Plan and will request as part of the notification an inspection of the works by the Council through its Landscape Consultancy Service.
6.0 Important notes for applicants, planning agents & landscape consultants
Please refer to the Notes for Applicant/Agent when instructing landscape consultant and/or before contacting the Council’s Landscape Advisor @ LCR notes for applicants.