Selection & appointment of landscape consultants
It is often important to seek expert advice when applying for planning permission, re-designing your garden or other open areas, or changing the management of your land etc.
It can be difficult to find the correct expert as the type you need will depend upon the task. If you are preparing a full landscape assessment to submit with a planning application you will probably need to appoint a landscape architect; however if you wish to re-design your garden you may prefer a garden designer.
Guide to selecting and appointing a landscape consultant
Your choice of landscape consultants able to undertake work in relation to planning applications or similar schemes can be guided by the following principles:
Membership of an appropriate Institute
Landscape architects are normally members of the Landscape Institute and have undertaken rigorous training in their field. The Landscape Institute can provide a list of members who undertake consultancy work.
There are a number of qualifications in garden design, but the most highly recognised professional organisation is the Society of Garden Designers, who can provide a list of their members undertaking this type of work on a consultancy basis.
Where a formal Environmental Impact Analysis is required, a useful indication of competence of a consultancy or individuals is membership of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.
Knowledge of the local area
Knowledge of the local area is useful in understanding the local soil types, ecology, topography etc and in having good contacts with local contractors and suppliers, for example specialist plant nurseries. It can also lead to a better understanding of local landscape policies, constraints and opportunities.
"In house" expertise
Not all environmental consultancies have their own in-house landscape specialists, so contract landscape consultants may be used, particularly on cases/sites that call for a multi-skilled approach. In such a case it is advisable to find out who the landscape architect will be and what professional qualifications or relevant expertise he or she possesses.
Relevant experience and knowledge
It is important to ensure that any landscape consultant appointed is qualified and experienced in the relevant fields. For example, a landscape architect with extensive experience working on historic parks may not have the appropriate experience to work with local communities on the design of a play area in an urban setting.
it is important to make sure the consultant you have appointed has all the appropriate legal documentation, licences, qualifications that are required, both within their profession and for health and safety etc.
Located or based locally
Is your expert located locally or will you be charged for travelling time and mileage? Establish this before you appoint any expert advice.
Tenders and detailed written proposals
It is always advisable to seek, for comparative purposes, several written tenders that include details of the work the consultants would undertake. It may also be helpful to ask for a “day rate” for any additional work that may be needed.
Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance should be held by the consultants to cover the costs of any legal liabilities established against them.
References and recommendations
It may be useful to ask any potential consultant for references from similar projects they have carried out. Local contacts are also a good source of information as to suitable consultants.