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2B writes to Minster of State for Transport
04 Feb 2015 20:38     A+ | a-
The Rt Hon John Hayes MP speech on Beautiful Roads, a new aesthetic vision for the road network, is here:

Humber Bridge

2B recognises, in the speech, a vision which emphasises the importance of combining the aesthetic and the functional - something landscape architects do every day.  This is the text of the email 2B sent to Rt Hon John Hayes MP:

Dear Mr Hayes

I was pleased to read the text of your speech about beautiful roads.  The recognition, at high levels of government, that beauty is at least as important as utility and function, is most welcome, and long overdue.
I was, however, disappointed to note that, despite twelve mentions of "landscape", there was not one mention of Landscape Architects as the key profession to deliver the vision you describe. 
Landscape architects combine the disciplines of: Architecture, Urban Design, Planning, Engineering, Ecology, and Horticulture; blend them with an innate awareness of time, landscape, sustainability, place making, biodiversity, amenity, play, wellbeing, stewardship; and the role of green infrastructure in delivering all of these through development which is life-affirming, sustainable and economically uplifting.  Roger Ulrich's research on the therapeutic effects of landscape (which you refer to) is often quoted by landscape architects.  It is a glorious example of not only valuing beauty and wellbeing, but also of recognising the direct and tangible economic benefits arising from patient care at a profound level.  Think of the dire state of a great many hospitals, and imagine those therapeutic benefits multiplied across the UK's greatest national cost centre, the NHS.
Landscape architects have been involved in, if not central to, all of the exemplar projects you mention, from the Festival of Britain to the 2012 Olympics.  As a profession, we are famously "a jack of all trades" who have some difficulty in answering the question "what is a landscape architect?". And yet, in an age where sustainability is recognised to be not an option, but an imperative, the cross-boundary thinking which underpins our profession is increasingly being valued in all areas of environmental design and management. By understanding and integrating design through so many disciplines, we bring a truly coherent approach to creating sustainable and beautiful development, which no other profession comes close to matching.  The answer to the question "what is a landscape architect" is simply becoming "indispensable to delivering sustainable development".
Thank you for your deeply-considered contribution, which is as applicable to all forms of development as it is to highways.  I would urge you to engage with the Landscape Institute, in the form of its President, Noel Farrer, and its CEO, Phil Mulligan (CC'd) who will be only too pleased to offer tangible assistance in delivering the vision you seek.
Bill Blackledge
Chartered Landscape Architect

By Bill Blackledge CMLI
member of LI Technical Committee
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