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Landscape Institute Annual Review 2015-2016

The Landscape Institute (LI) has had a year during which a strong financial performance has been matched by a wide range of initiatives. The profile of the LI has risen and the standing of the profession has been enhanced as it has been able to advocate on key issues such as housing, public health, Green Belt, flooding, water management and green infrastructure. 

Once again, much of what was achieved was made possible by the support of our many volunteers who hold governance roles, work for our branches, sit on committees, mentor candidates for chartership, organise events and promote the profession. We were supported by more than 700 volunteers during the year, and while difficult to quantify, we believe that the annual value of this voluntary contribution is between £1m and £1.5m. The board of trustees would like to thank every member and volunteer who has contributed to the success of the year and helped the Institute in fulfilling its mission to protect and enhance the environment and to create thriving communities through the design and management of inspirational places. No other professional body brings together environmental analysis, spatial planning, site management and design. This unique mix enables members of the Landscape Institute to offer design and management solutions which are environmentally led, sustainable, and enhance the quality of human life.

On behalf of both the members and staff of the Institute I would like to thank Noel Farrer, our President during this period, for his leadership and the very generous amount of time that he invested in the profession. Noel provided the leadership to modernise our governance arrangements and to resolve the question of where the Institute’s headquarters should be located. He accomplished all of this in style and with immense good humour.

A very special thanks goes to our high performing and dedicated staff led by Phillip Mulligan our chief executive, who stepped down in July. The staff of the Institute work tirelessly behind the scenes on a wide range of activities in support of the membership, empowering them to deliver the public goods that justify our charitable status. A lot of this work is hidden from view and often does not get the recognition it richly deserves. It is a complicated business running a modern charity today.

Finally our thanks again to Phillip Mulligan for all he achieved for the Institute and its members. We all wish him the very best for his new life.

Merrick Denton-Thompson OBE FLI
President of the Landscape Institute

Supporting today’s landscape professionals

This year the LI has supported its members and registered practices by:
  • Providing an expanded range of membership benefits which cover legal advice, insurance, a pension scheme and a new book club.
  • Keeping the branches strong by funding members’ activity at branch level
  • Running the Landscape Institute Annual Awards, which were bigger than ever in 2015. The President’s Award went to Kinnear Landscape Architects for its subtle but effective work on Brentford High Street, and Dame Fiona Reynolds, who presented the award, took the occasion to promote her campaign for beauty.
  • Also discussing beauty as a major theme at the LI’s conference in Sheffield, a highly successful relaunching of an annual tradition, which will become annual again. 
  • Continuing to provide a range of CPD events including a new series of free webinars, and vital training on SuDS, GLVIA, landscape character and on trees and their health. There was also a day of concentrated CPD and site visits at the Sheffield conference.
  • Developing a new members’ website which includes an online directory of members and registered practices
  • Improving membership services by enabling members to pay subscriptions and update all records online 
  • Producing regular publications for members including the Journal, Vista, policy briefings and technical information notes
  • Running design competitions for members to enter, including an ideas competition for Moccas in Herefordshire as part of the Capability Brown Festival, and the ‘Design for Life’ competition on GI and resilience, won by Groundworks London and Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

Recruiting tomorrow’s practitioners

The LI promoted its educational work by:
  • Launching the ‘Ambassador for Landscape’ scheme aimed at promoting careers in landscape to school children. There are now 170 ambassadors, of whom 40 have already visited schools.
  • Providing bursary support for landscape students to attend the LI annual conference
  • Managing the accreditation process and continuing to raise  standards on courses at twelve universities
  • Developing a new process for experienced practitioners to gain chartership
  • Running a comprehensive programme of training for members at events, masterclasses, conferences and via a new webinar service
  • Running two cycles of professional exams where the pass rates remained at an impressive 78%

Advocating for landscape

The LI furthered its work in policy development and communications by:
  • Working with TCPA and RTPI to secure significant changes to National Planning Guidance on GI, with enhanced importance given to it in the National Planning Policy Framework
  • Then president Noel Farrer providing oral evidence to the House of Lords Inquiry on the built environment focusing on the importance of green infrastructure
  • Responding to government consultations in England and the devolved nations 
  • Supporting policy work within the devolved nations
  • Representing the LI on the government’s expert panels on housing design and roads
  • Producing briefings for members on the Health and Social Care Act and the Green Belt
  • Representing the profession on key forums such as the Green Infrastructure Partnership, the Place Alliance, Natural England Landscape Forum, the Construction Industry Council and various forums in the devolved nations
  • Taking our exhibition on ‘Rethinking the Urban Landscape’ to locations across the UK
  • Curating a new exhibition with the Building Centre, London on the Green Belt and running public programmes on the topic
  • Promoting landscape issues as part of London Open House with walks and site visits
  • Promoting landscape issues within the London Festival of Architecture via debates and walks
  • Developing and supporting the Capability Brown Festival 2016 which highlighted his significance both historically and today through a wide range of events around the country aimed at all ages and interests
  • Supporting the work of the Parks Alliance by providing media and communications services

Building knowledge

The Institute furthered its work in providing technical and professional services for members by:
  • Publishing information and guidance on: crowdfunding; landscape character assessment; the New Homes Standard; the catchment approach; green bridges; wildlife connectivity; ecosystem services and the BRE’s Strategic Ecology Framework
  • Publishing regular newsletters on BIM, on biosecurity and on dealing with tree disease 
  • Developing the contents of the new BIM for Landscape book
  • Keeping abreast of technical developments throughout the sector, tweeting and reporting on findings and catalysing new connections  
  • Responding to member enquiries topics of widespread interest such as starting up, professional indemnity and site visits and also more specialised enquiries such as practice in West Africa, soils and zinc toxicity, and management of Crassula helmsi i(swamp stonecrop)
  • Maintaining LI representation on selected groups such as Defra’s Tree Health Policy Group, BRE working groups, and the Design Council’s Inclusive Environments Steering Group

Financial performance

The Institute’s financial performance was strong once again in the year under review. We achieved a surplus in excess of our annual budget mainly as a result of better income generation.

Our surplus for the year was £110,347, and net assets increased from £1,809,853 to £1,920,200. The institute is in a healthy financial position. 

Our principal funding sources are membership subscriptions, fees from practices that register with us, fees from candidates on our Pathway to Chartership and the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Capability Brown Festival.

The 2015-16 Financial Accounts and Trustees Report is available on the LI website.

Capability Brown Festival

2016 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Capability Brown, a designer who changed the national landscape and created a style which has shaped people’s picture of the quintessential English countryside. As the first ever celebration of Brown’s extensive works, the Festival brings together a huge range of events, openings and exhibitions. The festival is led and managed by the Landscape Institute and funded by HLF.

Looking ahead

Our plans for the period April 2016 to March 2017, many of which have already been achieved in part or in full, include:
  • Develop further policy on the crucial areas of housing, water, green belt, infrastructure and fracking
  • Support landscape practitioners in the public sector, including the work of the Parks Alliance
  • Deliver a successful Capability Brown Festival to our agreed Heritage Lottery Fund project plan, thereby enhancing the public’s appreciation of and regard for landscape 
  • Promote our new authoritative book on BIM for landscape  
  • Roll out the successful Green Belt exhibition with associated seminars across the UK
  • Participate in the London Festival of Architecture to reach a wide public audience 
  • Support landscape accredited courses by promoting careers in landscape architecture 
  • Review the re-accreditation process for accredited courses 
  • Achieve member approval of new governing documents, the elements of which were approved in principle by membership in 2015
  • Develop our website with a fully integrated online membership renewal process, enabling members to update their own profiles and incorporate an online member directory
  • Develop international membership, further supporting members abroad and attracting new members
  • Review membership benefits to enhance support for individuals and practices 
  • Develop our training and educational events programme
  • Further develop member communications including the website, Journal, Vista and social media channels
  • Develop new technical publications and guidance. 

Our supporters

Our work is supported by membership and registered practice income, by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and by our sponsors both nationally and locally.

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