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How do I write a brief?[i]


Have a project that you would like us to participate in potentially?  Great! We would love to work for you too.  The ultimate success of your project with Landsmith Associates depends on the quality of your brief, i.e., your ability to clearly describe the requirements and functions of your landscape[ii], as well as proposed operation and management methods. It is wise to ask us to assist you in preparing a final brief.

At Landsmith Associates, we:

  • Only work on previously developed, brownfield, existing estates (retrofit) sites.

  • Aim for a minimum of 30% biodiversity net gain for strategic and built projects.

  • The heart of all projects is to co-create climate resilience, promote water sensitivity and neutrality, and human- and nature-centred cities, estates, neighbourhoods, streets, and places.

  • We focus on a systems-based and evidence-led design process and incorporate digital technology into our thinking and methodology.

  • Embrace collaborative working with diverse stakeholders, consultants, and specialists to deliver successful projects on time and within budget.


Landsmith Associates will need to know:

  • your vision:

  • your aims and objectives (including public and private groups, users, communities and stakeholders' needs):

  • your budget:

    1. Professional fees

    2. Capital Construction Budget

    3. Landscape[iii] budget

  • Your programme:

  • Your site location and size: (ideally an address, plan or map of the site)

  • Your required services: Is the project standard or non-standard service[iv]? If so, which services are required?

  • Your feedback from past projects:

  • Your community engagement approach: are you looking for a participatory or co-design approach from RIBA Stage 0 onwards? 

  • Your design style: Are you looking for a design or strategy that is in keeping with the existing landscape/townscape? e.g. Do you want a contemporary landscape? Are you concerned about having a sustainable or ecological design?

  • your process: what type of planning application are you submitting (if known/relevant)?  How are you planning to engage with communities and stakeholders? Is there any specific planning protection, e.g. conservation areas, listed buildings/structures, TPOs? 

  • your reasons for embarking on this project: what activities are intended for it?  Whom were they intended for?

  • Your authority: Who will decide on the designs, costs, and construction when the project is underway? Are there any public land ownership or access routes, e.g. adopted highways or public rights of way[v]?

  • Your overall expectations: What do you hope to achieve with this project? More space, more nature, variety of uses, greater flexibility, more people using it as a public space and quieter space?

  • your final output: what type of data format do you want, e.g. specifications as spreadsheets rather than PDFs/open access data or .dxf drawings and GIS data format? iii

  • your procurement route: what type of contract will be used for consultancy and construction, e.g. RIBA sub-consultants agreement? NEC design and build? Will the soft landscape be separated from the main contract (if known/required)?

  • Your Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) level requirement: Our practice has a threshold between £1,000,000. However, this can be increased depending on the project, and sites closer to watercourses/flood zones or steeply sloping tend to command higher PII.


[i] An adapted version of this,



[ii] Green infrastructure strategy, hard and soft landscape, cycle storage and parking, pedestrian and cycle routes and spaces, external lighting and signage, water features, public art, boundary treatments, sustainable drainage, play and other features in the landscape, green roofs, living walls, spatial analysis and site appraisals, external waste units/storage, street furniture, assessments, e.g. LVIA and/or sustainability assessments, active travel, i.e. ANYTHING OUTSIDE OR CONNECTS WITH THE OUTSIDE (e.g. doorways/thresholds, roof gardens etc.)


[iii] Landscape can include soil, green roofs, hard landscape materials, living walls, soft landscape, boundary treatments and structures, irrigation, water features, and external lighting.  Does not traditionally include roads, drainage, structures over 1.8m, underground services, white lining, contaminated land etc


[iv] Standard services

Landscape architecture/urban design related to development /follow RIBA/LI work stages from 0 to 7

Landscape Institute Plan of Work:

   Non-standard services examples:

Landscape and visual assessment of any type

Master planning

Landscape Management and Maintenance plan

Landscape sensitivity and capacity studies

Supplementary Planning Documents/policies

Public realm strategies and frameworks

Public art installation and strategies

Community engagement


[v] Type of space

  • Public – adopted land under the ownership and control of the local authority, and is fully publicly accessible 24hrs a day, 7 days a week e.g., adopted streets, parks etc.

  • Semi-public - adopted land under the ownership and control of the local authority, however, has limited accessibility e.g., park with evening closing times

  • Semi-private – under private ownership with limited/timed public access – publicly accessible land or space but under the ownership and invitation of the private landowner only e.g. outdoor space for café seating, shopping centres, front gardens

  • Private – not publicly associable at any time and under private ownership e.g., private gardens, terraces etc

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