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Robert Holden

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Posts posted by Robert Holden

  1. Act as a meeting place: by allowing its members to communicate. Why not enable branches to communicate with all their members: currently they can only email the proportion of their members who have chosen to receive email via My Landscape on the LI website. I am told London branch emails only go to 300 or so of the 1000+ members in Greater London and those emails have to be checked by an LI employee before they go out. The LI Northern Ireland branch reportedly has not been formed for the past three years. Furthermore, the Institute tells us that Branch representatives represent their region and may not discuss certain matters with Institute branch committees. Look at branch websites and they contain very little information. LI Connect has reduced numbers of members contributing  (360) compared with Talking Landscapes and has far less functionality. Why? No engagement of LI Officers, why not?

    Advisory Council could work effectively: since governance was given to the Board of Trustees in 2009 Council has been rarely listened to by the Board of Trustees. A typical tactic is for Board members to abstain from a vote and then ignore a motion passed by Council. The three Standing Committees should report on their work to Council as happened to about 2016. Too often it seems the Council is broken up to consider items with little of no preparation. The group then report an off the cuff opinion and then nothing happens. 

    Set up overseas branches in the Middle East and Far East. The RIBA and RICS have branches world-wide. ASLA has an International Practice Professional Practice Network. The Landscape Institute used to have a branch in Hong Kong (which led to the present HK ILA). A Middle Eastern and Far Eastern branch could support members in those regions and in particular support Associate members on the Pathway to Chartership. 

    Support the Pathway to Chartership more effectively:  for instance introduce candidates, who don’t work with a CMLI, to mentors. The former Talking Landscapes regularly used to receive requests from members based in China and the Middle East to find mentors. LI Connect has reduced numbers of members contributing  (360) compared with Talking Landscapes and has far less functionality. Why? No engagement of LI Officers, why not?

    Act on the independent review: carry out its recommendations. The Institute website states " The Steering Group will be providing regular updates throughout 2021 and 2022". The first progress report was to be made in late August 2021. Nothing appears on the LI webpage. What has happened since. Has the Independent Review been forgotten? Catherine Brown made 37 proposals for change on 19 January 2021: two years later little appears to have happened. 

    Promote education: The RIBA recognises nine Masters apprenticeships, and two Bachelors apprenticeships (and is in conversation with nine other universities) the LI recognises one A level standard (i.e. H.E. level 3) Technician apprenticeship delivered with Capel College. Is there a shortage of landscape architects in the UK or not?

    No public sector network, no specialisms, nowt on LI Connect? LVIA was proposed by Paul Reynolds on LI Connect on 11 August 2021: with a response from the LI Connect administrator and the setting up of an LVIA group and a flurry of activity which seems to have ended in June 2022? Charlotte Williams proposed a group on Landscape Character Assessment on 11 August 2021:no response. Why nothing for ethnic minority Landscape Architects? Look at the LI Connect for March 2023 (or for April and May) and it lists no events. 

    Be transparent: the Institute is far far too secretive.

    Promote the Landscape Institute collections: the Institute donated its Library and Archives to the Museum of English Rural Life at University of Reading in 2013. The MERL has done a good job of supporting and enabling the material (ref. https://merl.reading.ac.uk/collections/landscape-institute/ ) but its annual grant to The MERL has fallen to £10,00 par annum from £30,000 ten years ago. When it maintained its collection before 2009 it used to spend c.£70,000 a year on its collections. But some actions would cost the Institute nothing, for example give permission for The MERL to place Landscape Design and earlier versions of the journal on JSTOR, why not?



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  2. Only 354 members today. And as you say Amanda difficult to find and access. No engagement of Landscape Institute officers, as far as I can see. Very little discussion and very much worse for Pathway members as a service than Talking Landscapes was (who were the main users). The Institute gives the impression of wishing to damp down on discussion and exchange between members, it does not permit branches to email all their members (only the minority who have opted to receive branch emails); its asserts branch reps represent their "region" not the branch committees and members). Oh dear ... all in all; an object lesson in how a professional institute can fight below its weight.

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  3. Landscape architects and lift manufacturers are sometimes said to be the last to be affected by recession.  Evidence of coming recession is in the Planning Portal there has been “12.5% total drop in applications we have seen for the year-to-date” (upto November 2022) ref. https://blog.planningportal.co.uk/2022/12/14/novembers-market-insight-report-is-now-available/#more-9166  . The Office of Budget Responsibility forecast in November that “The squeeze on real incomes, rise in interest rates, and fall in house prices all weigh on consumption and investment, tipping the economy into a recession lasting just over a year from the third quarter of 2022, … ”. https://obr.uk/overview-of-the-november-2022-economic-and-fiscal-outlook/ . The Bank of England also forecast in November that “As a result, the UK economy is expected to remain in recession throughout 2023 and 2024 H1, and GDP is expected to recover only gradually thereafter.”  Ref. https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/monetary-policy-report/2022/november/monetary-policy-report-november-2022.pdf 

    Mind you, recessions are good times to assemble land, pay consultants relative peanuts to submit a planning application and then if successful develop as the economy recovers from recession. Commissions for long term state developments such as HS2 or East West Rail are also good projects for survival through a recession. Alternatively go for landscape management commissions of five or so years (providing you have inflation related your fees).

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  4. The RIBA validates nine level 7 (Masters) apprenticeship courses and two level 6 (Bachelor) courses: the RIBA is in negotiation with nine other universities: ref. https://www.architecture.com/education-cpd-and-careers/apprenticeships/universities-offering-architecture-apprenticeship-training By contrast the Landscape Institute advises there is just one course at Capel College and that is at level 3 (= A level): https://www.landscapeinstitute.org/support-article/where-can-i-take-the-apprenticeship/

    Why so little opportunity in landscape architecture?

  5. Dear Graham and Penny,  

    ONS annual inflation figures of 17 August  for the year upto July 2022 were CPI of 10.1% and RPI of 12.3% ref. https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices The Bank of England Monetary Policy Report of 3 August advises  "CPI inflation is expected to rise more than forecast in the May Report, from 9.4% in June to just over 13% in 2022 Q4, and to remain at very elevated levels throughout much of 2023, before falling to the 2% target two years ahead." ref. https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/monetary-policy-report/2022/august/monetary-policy-report-august-2022.pdf

    Graham: If your profit margin is 10% then you will be operating at a loss in one year’s time, given the present level of inflation. Maybe this is an argument for 20% profit ab initio? See my related piece on profit in landscape architecture consultancy work ref. https://connect.landscapeinstitute.org/index.php?/topic/261-profit-in-landscape-architecture/&tab=comments#comment-566  

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  6. Dear Christopher, Maybe of help are

    Re O2 production:

    Suresh Ramanan Sundaram  et al ‘Oxygen production potential of trees in urban areas: a reality check?’ Current Science  September 2021 121(5), pp.622-625. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/354435988_Oxygen_production_potential_of_trees_in_urban_areas_a_reality_check

    Re Air pollution removal

    Alessio Russo, Wing Tung Chan  and Giuseppe T. Cirella  ‘Estimating Air Pollution Removal and Monetary Value for Urban Green  Infrastructure Strategies Using Web-Based Applications’  Land July 2021 10, 788   https://doi.org/10.3390/land10080788  



    Profit in landscape architecture

    In accountancy  ‘profit’ refers to the financial benefit that is achieved when the  work done and the expenses incurred by a business are exceeded by revenue generated by the  activities of the business. 

    In short profit is Total revenue -Total expenditure

    The  owners of a business are responsible for deciding what to do with profit, and may reinvest it in the business, pay off outstanding debt,  reward employees with bonuses and pay-rises, make payments to shareholders, and so on.

    There are different types of profit that can be measured as:

    • gross profit,
    •  operating profit,
    • net profit.

    Profit may also be referred to as a profit margin which is the percentage of the gross revenue that represents profit.

    The UK construction industry is notoriously susceptible to changes in economic outlook  and regularly goes through booms and busts as it is used to hold back or push forward the wider economy.. The 2015 UK Industry Performance Report (produced by Glenagan, a UK construction industry analyst consultancy) suggested that the profitability of the construction industry was around 3%, up from around 2% the previous year, but well below the peak of 9.9% in 2009. In 2019-20 Glenagan report profitability as 2.9%. Design consultancies generally achieve better profitability than this. Caroline Cole in her 2014 RIBA Journal article reported that architectural consultancies then achieved 20% profitability: “Across the country, practices average a healthy profit margin of just over 20%. However, this figure conceals some worrying variations in fortunes, especially at the larger end of the spectrum: almost 60% of the largest practices do not meet our benchmark for profitability, which is set at 15%; more than a third fail to muster even 10% profit.”

    There is a lot more information available related to profit and landscape architecture practices in the USA. TRUIC advises that for landscape company practices “Profit should be priced in at at least 10% of cost (minimum), for both the design and the construction businesses. Some companies operate at a 15% margin, but this is rare, especially for a smaller company.”  TRUIC is short for The Really Useful Information Company self-described as “a team of entrepreneurs who are passionate about education”. A piece by the  Landscape Leadership website, run by the US sales and marketing agency, reports that “The average profitability for a landscape company is net 5 percent. But … that a well-run landscaping company should be between 10 and 12 percent. “Incidentally ASLA reports on the total value of landscape architecture services in the USA  as $2.7 billion Wonder what is the equivalent value in the UK.


    Glenagan UK Construction Industry Report 2019-20 https://www.glenigan.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Glenigan_2019-20_UK_Industry_Performance_Report.pdf ref. pp.7-8

    Caroline Cole, ‘Success begins at home’ RIBA Journal article, 1.4.2014, https://www.ribaj.com/intelligence/success-begins-at-home

    TRUIC https://howtostartanllc.com/business-ideas/landscape-architect

    Landscape Leadership https://www.landscapeleadership.com/blog/how-to-identify-most-profitable-landscape-services

    Jared Green, “Landscape Architecture Services in the US valued at $2.7 Billion” The Dirt 7 March 2018 https://dirt.asla.org/2018/03/07/landscape-architecture-services-in-the-u-s-added-2-7-billion-in-value/

  8. Inflation and Fees

    Having worked through the 1970s (when inflation rose to 27% per annum in 1976) I offer these thoughts and would welcome comments please. 

    It is a time of inflation (forecast by many including the Bank of England to rise to 10% p.a. by the end of the year) and anyone putting fee bids should be aware of what is happening. go to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for the national picture, for CPIH, CPI,  and RPI, The figures are published monthly so in mid April the March 2022 figures were published as follows:

    • CPIH Consumer Price Index including owner occupier’s housing costs: 6.2% per annum
    • CPI Consumer Price Index: 7.0% per annum
    • RPI Retail Price Index: 9.0% per annum

    Each of these indices is a basket of prices of consumer goods. Clearly of these indices currently the RPI is the most favourable, but because  RPI does not meet international statistical standards, since 2013 the Office for National Statistics no longer classifies it as a "national statistic", and instead emphasizes the Consumer Price Index. 

    However, the LI Landscape Consultant’s Conditions of Appointment (2018) refers to the Average Earnings Index for both time fees (clause 4.4) and lump sum fees (clause 4.7) and states they shall be revised at 12 month intervals. It does not give  source for the Average Earnings Index, however, one assumes this may refer to the Office of National Statistics  figures for Average Weekly Earnings. This is published with a two month delay so in early May 2022 the latest figure was that for February 2022 with an inflation figure of 5.2% for the whole economy. Better than nothing but not as high as the CPI or RPI figures. Close to construction is the information in the RICS Building and Construction Information Service (BCIS) at a hefty subscription rate, larger practices may subscribe or one might be able to obtain figures from a QS. 

    The other thing one can do is not to sign for long term fees agreements, i.e. just sign up for each stage of work using the LI 2018 Scope of Services, however, this has its downside in that your commissions will each be for a shorter term, and so such as option offers less long term security. Arguably it is better to sign up for longer term in term of financial security, but to inflation index any fixed fees.


    Office of National Statistics ref. https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices

    Office of National Statistics Average Weekly Earnings: ref. https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours

    RICS Building and Construction Information Service: https://www.rics.org/uk/products/data-products/bcis-construction/bcis-online/

    Inflation forecasts: 

    Bank of England https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/knowledgebank/will-inflation-in-the-uk-keep-rising  (5 May 2022)  

    Office for Budget Responsibility  https://obr.uk/forecasts-in-depth/the-economy-forecast/inflation/ (March 2022 figures)

  9. Reading the Terms for My Landscape: I find the rather ominous indeed off-putting statement that 

    Use of the Platform carries legal responsibilities, Messages which include offensive, untrue or illegal content, or even expressions of opinion about others, can lead to claims against you and possible criminal offences. Use of this Platform is subject to the terms of use set out below (the “Terms”) and you should read these carefully. You should only post messages that you would be comfortable including in a written letter to every Participant in this Platform and every other person who may see a copy. You are treated as accepting the Terms by accessing or using the Platform for any purpose.

    What possible crimes might be committed by contributing  LI Connect? May I quote a law website:  

    Criminal libel was repealed in the UK in 2010, when the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 came into effect and abolished the offences of sedition and seditious libel, defamatory libel and obscene libel. But the law still classes spoken or written statements about others that are not true as defamation.Slander is an untrue spoken statement, while libel is publishing a falsehood about someone else in a letter, report or online. What many people fail to realise is they can libel someone in an email or website.In the UK, defamation is a civil action, and if proven, a judge can award significant damages to the plaintiff.

    Defamation is not a crime.  





  10. Colleagues,

    LI Connect has 320 members, (out of a total membership of over 5000) so is not working. It has less functionality than Talking Landscapes and does not serve the main users of Talking Landscapes who were the Associate Members. There is no specific P2C Forum for Associate Members. So why not set up a Forum for the Pathway to Chartership and email Associate members encouraging them to exchange information there?


  11. Pathway to Chartership speed quiz

    Tuesday 5 and Tuesday 12 April 2022

    6.30 to 8.00pm

    LI London are hosting our ever-popular Pathway to Chartership (P2C) speed quiz to provide candidates with a chance to practice answering Chartership exam questions concisely and correctly.

    The quiz sessions will take place online via Zoom, with each session lasting no longer than 90 minutes. Candidates will be in pairs and have around 10 minutes with each examiner.

    We're only able to run these exams with the help of volunteers. If you can help act as a volunteer examiner, please contact the London branch! All volunteers are welcome, from new CMLI to retired members.

    If you'd like to take part as a candidate, please register (for only one date) below. 


    Following successful registration, we'll send you the Zoom link and a more detailed timetable.

    If you have questions, please contact the London branch via mail.london@landscapeinstitute.org.

    With best wishes,
    The Landscape Institute London branch

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  12. At the Members graduation ceremony on 24 February Jane Findlay as President urged new Chartered Members to contribute via the branches, volunteering to join standing committees and for new College of Fellows members to contribute via the College. 

    Yet the Institute does not enable easy participation. Branches cannot email the majority of their membership only those who have elected to received branch emails. For example London Branch emails only reach 300 or so of its 1000 plus members. Far better if branch membership and emails was automatic plus an opt out facility. It is bonkers that branches cannot email the majority of their members. 

    There are only 317 Members of this LI Connect social media site (out of over 5000 Institute members): this is not involving the majority of members. The old Talking Landscapes site had a lively Pathway to Chartership members forum: nothing at all on LI Connect. Naomi Gilbert wrote on this on 16 September 2021 but no action that I can see? At very least can we please add a Pathway to Chartership Forum to LI Connect.



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