28 June 2012
Sue Illman says it's time to hold government to account on its commitment to landscape
Sue Illman will become President of the Landscape Institute, the UK body for landscape architecture, on 1 July. She takes over the two-year elected presidency from Jo Watkins.
According to Sue Illman it's time for the landscape profession to focus on the many areas where the government has already made a commitment to good landscape. It has signed up to the European Water Framework Directive and yet only 27% of lakes and rivers are ecologically stable* with water quality through pollution and over extraction being the key issues. In recent months we have been confronted with major challenges in terms of water conservation – the hose pipe bans have been lifted but we haven't addressed the major challenge of water scarcity that will confront us in the next decade. The government needs to recognise the ability of landscape professionals to solve a substantial part of this problem through integrated water management and water sensitive design.
"It's up to us, the practitioners, to communicate the value we can bring to all developments at any scale. New housing, urban regeneration projects, heritage conservation, health and leisure, along with the transformation of our struggling high streets would all benefit from the support of landscape architects.
"As a body we also need to be much more vocal about the traditional house builder model where green space is seen only as a requirement not an opportunity, and we need to articulate the vast benefits of green infrastructure and convince those responsible that 'green' development has more to offer than 'grey' development.
"The Localism Act is a great opportunity for the profession – it will bring more demand for better landscapes as local communities are given the opportunity to shape their environments. The profession must seize the opportunity and help those communities realise their visions. Ask most people what they want and well-designed housing developments, town-centres, transport hubs, schools and hospitals are likely to be at the top of the list."
Under Illman's Presidency the Institute will publish new position statements on Housing, Water and Public Health and Well-being – all issues with major relevance to people's everyday lives. As a professional body the Institute is committed to advocating the value of landscape and promoting the profession as widely as possible. To this end it has revamped its website with more focus on advocating the benefits of landscape architecture to clients. Inspired by the Institute's latest publication, Landscape Architecture – A guide for clients, the upgraded website showcases the breadth of work undertaken by landscape architects both here and abroad and demonstrates the vision, skill, social, economic and environmental value landscape architects bring to projects.