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Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA)

Published: 2023-06-09 Updated: 2023-06-12 Subject:

Planning application - local requirement

A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) details the impact of a proposed development on views, the character of the site, and the area it is situated in. In rural areas, the effect on the character of the landscape and landscape features will be assessed. In more urban areas, it is the effect on townscape character and features that will be assessed.

Smaller or less sensitive proposals are sometimes referred to as Landscape and Visual Appraisals (LVAs) and usually require a somewhat lower level of detail. Assessments normally include some form of Accurate Visual Representation (AVR) of the proposed development. Please be aware that larger and more sensitive developments will always require AVR.

AVRs can be produced in varying formats, such as wirelines or fully rendered photomontages. The number and format required will be in proportion to the scale and sensitivity of the proposals. You will need to submit an LVIA for any application which has the potential to impact on the landscape/townscape character of an area or on views.

When this requirement applies

The simplest way to determine whether there is 'potential for impact' that would trigger the need for an LVIA is to ask questions including:

  • What is the scale of the proposed development?
  • How noticeable would the change in character of the site or of the area be?
  • How visible would the changes be? Would local or longer distance views of the site and its environs change noticeably?
  • Is the site located within a protected area? (e.g. Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Green Belt, World  Heritage Site, Conservation Area)
  • Could the proposed changes affect a protected area?

What the Assessment should include

You should undertake the assessment in accordance with current recognised best practice guidance. The current key source for best practice guidance is Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment 3rd Edition 2023, published by the Landscape Institute (LI) and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).

The assessment should include a level of detail that is proportionate to the scale and sensitivity of the proposals.

As a minimum, the assessment should include:

  • Baseline assessment
  • Clear explanation of the methodology employed
  • Assessment of effects on landscape and/or townscape character
  • Assessment of effects on views 
  • Assessment of effects on the site, on the immediate and wider area
  • Assessment of effects on protected areas
We strongly recommend using our Pre-Application Advice service for more detailed advice on the landscape implications of your proposals.
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