HDA was employed by Savills to provide landscape advice for its masterplan of an NHS Healthy New Town at Cranbrook in East Devon. HDA prepared an Landscape and Visual Assessment (LVA) to test the masterplan and Green Infrastructure, and a Green Infrastructure and SANG strategy for the site.

East Devon District Council sought to significantly expand on the Phase 1 development of the town, within an identified area. An initial landscape and visual baseline study was undertaken by HDA to test which parts of the expansion area had the highest capacity for development.

SWOT analysis was undertaken for the four identified potential development parcels and constraints and opportunities for each parcel were identified. Key constraints included: the setting of local villages, two of which had a Green Wedge designation to protect the separation between the villages and Cranbrook, protection of heritage assets, floodplain, noise constraints from the adjacent airport, potential impacts on the local transport network and landscape and visual sensitivities.

Wireframe models were created to test the visual sensitivity of the parcels from key viewpoints that were agreed with the council. HDA tested two extents of development. The recommendations from our work have been taken through into The Cranbrook Plan, Draft Development Plan Document, which went to examination this February.

HDA’s landscape evidence was integral to the development of the masterplan, which will allow Cranbrook to grow to around 7,500 homes and includes schools, community facilities and public open space. The masterplan proposal for the expansion areas promotes a compact urban form with higher densities focused around community facilities and transport nodes. Open space is allocated in areas of more attractive landscape where development would be less appropriate. A strong network of footpath and cycle links will provide corridors through the scheme to transport hubs, employment areas, community facilities, open space, neighbouring communities and the wider landscape.

Following the completion of the masterplan, the design was tested by HDA with an LVA. A complementary Green Infrastructure and SANG strategy was then produced for the site by HDA, which set out the landscape principles for development.