From the outset of the design development process Peter Stewart Consultancy acts as a ‘critical friend’, offering independent scrutiny and review.

Planning authorities and consultees are interested in the relationship between a project and its surroundings, looking beyond the red line of the site boundary – but clients and architects can lose sight of this as they address the more immediate demands of the project brief.

Our focus is on the project in relation to the bigger picture: how it will relate to the buildings, routes and spaces around it – not just in how it looks, but in how it functions too. In many cases, this will require paying particular attention to the historic environment.

Designing new buildings with townscape and heritage sensitivities in mind can be critical to gaining planning consent, and an important part of our role is to identify these sensitivities at an early stage.

We aim to add value to the projects we work on – and we believe that great architecture and sound urban design add value. The review of designs by a ‘critical friend’, carried out in a positive spirit and at the right stages, can improve projects significantly. Townscape and heritage advice will be of most value if it is provided holistically, from the start of a project through to the granting of planning consent, with the townscape consultant as an integral part of the consultant team.

We provide townscape and visual impact assessments and heritage assessments where these are required to support a planning application; and where necessary, we provide expert evidence in support of planning appeals.

A Townscape and Visual Impact Assessment (TVIA) is an authoritative independent assessment, supported by accurate ‘before and after’ photomontage images of the proposed development.

A TVIA is required for most major planning applications. We have prepared TVIAs for a variety of large and complex urban projects which affect sensitive contexts.

Viewpoints to be illustrated with before and after views as part of a planning application are identified at an early stage, so that the effects on views can be tested as an integral part of the development of the design and illustrated in pre-application discussions with the planning authority.

For major projects which require an environmental statement (ES), a TVIA forms an important part of a robust document. Where an ES is not required, it may still be of benefit to submit a TVIA to support the planning application; or for smaller projects, a simpler form of independent design appraisal can make the case that a project is well-designed and suitable to be granted planning permission.
There are few substantial projects that do not affect the historic environment in some way, and it is essential that the subject of heritage is dealt with robustly in any planning application.

Consideration of the effects of projects on ‘heritage assets’, such as listed buildings and their settings,and conservation areas, is a legal requirement. Peter Stewart Consultancy is able to provide heritage assessments, either in combination with the TVIA or in more complex cases,as a separate assessment, to be submitted in support of planning applications and applications for listed building consents.

The subject needs to be addressed proportionately, concentrating on ‘what matters and why’. Our heritage assessments are clear, focussed and authoritative.