Getting the best out of your landscape assets

By Anthony Stiff, Director ASA Landscape Architects

An important, but often overlooked asset to any science and technology park is its landscape; not only in providing the setting to the buildings and the supporting the character of the site, but also supporting biodiversity, providing amenity and relaxing break-out spaces, exercise routes and opportunities for chance encounters to occur.

In the emerging post-pandemic world, with a focus on wellbeing and offering something different to a home environment; we are seeing the importance of well-designed outdoor commercial spaces come to the fore. However, once that beautifully designed landscape has been created, without a properly specified and managed landscape maintenance contract, that investment, is all too often at risk.

Overseeing and managing the implementation of a landscape contract, ensuring its compliance and identifying areas for improvement is a specialist skill-set, and an area where ASA Landscape Architects have been able provide support to Facility Managers for a number of decades.

With extensive experience in this area, we have written landscape maintenance specifications for numerous commercial developments and has provided support of the procurement process through to overseeing the management of the contract. In our experience we have found that working in collaboration with the Facility Management team, and in carrying out regular assessments of the maintenance works, we can ensure that best value to the client is provided, and that landscapes look their best to occupiers all year round.

Furthermore, with a deep knowledge of the industry, we can provide a one-stop design and management service; identify and designing planting schemes for up-grade and rejuvenation on a rolling basis, improving site biodiversity, as well as working with the maintenance team to ensure best practice.

In recent years there has been a move to digitise all facility management information. In response to this we have developed a GIS (Geographical Information System) to assist larger clients in managing their landscape assets. Developed and used over the last 10 years, this management tool enables clients to increase their understanding of their landscape asset, its components, extent, quality and need for renewal, whilst delivering the inputs and long-term costs that are required to manage and maintain it. This can assist in resource planning, and quality monitoring (KPIs) and identifying the implications and opportunities for Biodiversity Net Gain.

A vibrant and well managed landscape can set your business or science park apart from the competition, provide multiple benefits to your tenants, employers and visitors, and can help towards providing a carbon neutral business. We know from tenant surveys on business parks that we work with, that the green infrastructure and quality of the landscape is the most influential reason for liking their place of work. Covid 19 as well as the focus on climate change has changed how we interact with the workplace, and it is incumbent on landlords to cater for a more demanding, and environmentally aware audience. 

Anthony Stiff Director ASA Landscape Architects

A focus on high quality landscape design and ongoing maintenance can pay dividends, not only through occupier retention, but also through nationally recognised awards, as explained in the following case studies at Milton Park, Chineham Business Park and Winnersh Triangle Business Park.

We have been involved with these three parks for a number of years, and have been influential both in creating new, and renovating existing landscapes to many individual developments and also across the estates. In addition, we have been employed to set up and manage the ongoing landscape maintenance of these estates, to ensure that the design intent and quality of appearance and biodiversity aims are met.

Innovations have included new permanent and ‘pop-up’ out-door seating areas, including meeting pods, pocket parks for informal recreation and seating, grey to green urban drainage solutions including bioretention swales and enhancing existing ditches, bespoke recreational facilities such as a new sports hub, table tennis, boules and skittles for occupiers to enjoy.

Milton Park has had a long and successful relationship working with ASA Landscape Architects. Drawing upon their expertise to deliver a consistent and cohesive approach to landscape maintenance and design has proved invaluable. Now more than ever we are challenged by our client and occupiers to deliver attractive and biodiverse green spaces across the park, which is a key objective we set ASA Landscape Architects. Utilising new and existing green spaces goes a long way to attracting and retaining occupiers, whilst creating opportunities for informal networking. From an FM perspective we have found the instruction of a landscape architect a huge benefit in maximising the landscaping and creating a point of difference in a very competitive market. 

Peter King, Estate Manager – Milton Park, CBRE

2021 Nov Article Outdoor seating in the Pocket Park at 210, Winnersh Business Park.

Outdoor seating in the Pocket Park at 210, Winnersh Business Park.

Planting and Wayfinding at Maplewood Chineham Park article

Planting and Wayfinding at Maplewood, Chineham Park

2021 Nov Pop-up outdoor seating café spaces at Milton Park

Pop-up outdoor seating/café spaces at Milton Park

2021 Nov Creation of wildflower meadows at Milton Park

Creation of wildflower meadows at Milton Park.

Working closely with the facility management and maintenance teams across these estates, we have supported the drive towards biodiversity, identifying no-mow areas actively introducing species rich grasses, native hedges, bird and bat boxes, swift towers and bee hives. This activity has been supported through community events including bee talks, bulb planting and the setting up of a Greener Work Forum to act as a conduit for new initiatives.

These efforts have been recognised with several awards given to our client teams:

  • British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) National Landscape Award for Grounds Maintenance for both Milton Park and Chineham Park
  • Green Apple Environmental Award (for Milton Park)
  • Fitwel certification for Winnersh and Chineham Park

The last 12-24 months has been challenging for everyone, but as the world adapts to life with Covid, and the climate change pressures we all need to face, ASA is striving to help their clients how to innovate and accommodate these changes, creating vibrant, successful landscapes through their design and management.