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HiAP 2019 - Partner Profile - LUC

Who is LUC ?

LUC is an award-winning environmental consultancy providing planning, impact assessment, landscape design and ecology services to a wide range of public and private sector clients. We are a team of over 150 skilled professionals, united by a determination to achieve sustainable development on behalf of our clients.

LUC has been working to improve the health and wellbeing of communities across the UK and beyond since our very first project over 50 years ago.

We are passionate about the power of good planning and landscape design to reduce health inequality, and the critical importance of providing quality green space in statistically deprived areas.

We care about the legacy we leave and hope to make a real difference through the work we do.

How has LUC contributed to improving the health and wellbeing of the population in the UK?

The evidence-base showing the critical role our physical built and natural environment plays in health and wellbeing is growing exponentially. Organisations such as the NHS, Public Health England, Natural England, and central and local government bodies are alert to this growing body of evidence and are urgently calling for solutions to reduce health inequality. LUC’s contribution comes through our design, management and planning projects; working with our clients to build and plan for accessible, healthy public spaces in many and diverse neighbourhoods and cities.

Rapid population growth combined with finite resources means every square metre of land must work harder than ever before and provide multiple benefits sustainably. Some of the benefits that can be combined in a single well-designed quality outdoor space include green infrastructure service, natural play, clean air, access to nature, safe walking routes, and places to rest and connect with others.

LUC is deeply engaged in this work, across all our services. We are tackling barriers to health and wellbeing through a diversity of projects, from green infrastructure planning through to public realm, open space design, schools, universities, hospitals, and care homes. Our interdisciplinary practice brings key skills and expertise together, using the power of landscape to deliver cost-effective sustainable solutions for some of the UK’s most concerning problems such as physical inactivity, social isolation, childhood obesity and pollution.

What recent work is LUC particularly proud of, in relation to health and wellbeing?

Health and wellbeing runs through almost all LUC’s projects. From designing and creating natural active play areas, starting with the Princess Diana Memorial Playground over 20 years ago, through to healthy, ecologically-focused campus and hospital grounds and studies to ensure health and wellbeing is integral to planning policy.

Some of our favourite projects are:

Tumbling Bay: https://landuse.co.uk/portfolio-items/tumbling-bay-playground-stratford/

The Level: https://landuse.co.uk/portfolio-items/restoration-level-brighton/

Tamsin Trail: https://landuse.co.uk/portfolio-items/tamsin-trail-richmond-park/

Enniskillen: https://landuse.co.uk/portfolio-items/south-west-acute-hospital-enniskillen/

Oxford Brookes https://landuse.co.uk/portfolio-items/oxford-brookes-university-2/

Hamiltonhill Claypits: https://landuse.co.uk/portfolio-items/glasgow-canal-regeneration/

Rushmore Open Space Study: https://landuse.co.uk/portfolio-items/rushmoor-open-space-sport-recreation-study/

LBTH Green Grid and Water Space Study: https://landuse.co.uk/portfolio-items/tower-hamlets-green-grid-strategy-water-space-study/

B&D Religious Meeting Places Study: https://landuse.co.uk/portfolio-items/barking-dagenham-planning-religious-meeting-places/

Taunton GI Study: https://landuse.co.uk/portfolio-items/taunton-deane-green-infrastructure-study/

Were there any measurable outcomes?

LUC is piloting an assessment tool that uses qualitative and quantitative methods to measure the impacts of our natural active play areas on the health and wellbeing of the children and carers using them. Indicators include quantitative data such as numbers of users, levels of physical activity and duration of stay, and also qualitative data such as a carer’s self-reported level of comfort and relaxation in a place, the development of collaborative skills amongst the children, and interaction with nature.

Following analysis of the initial study, LUC aims to expand the assessment method to include impacts of well-designed and well-connected play spaces on the wider community (for example reducing social isolation for the elderly). This is an area of intense interest for our clients, and we are partnering with The Royal Parks and Peabody to grow this body of work on their behalf.

We are deeply interested in finding ways to prove to different agencies that access to quality green space has positive health and wellbeing impacts; this is not straightforward as complex realities such as levels of social collaboration do not lend themselves easily to being quantified. Different kinds of evidence should be considered where the standard scientific rules of longitudinal numerical studies cannot be applied.

Who are the clients and users that benefit from LUC’s work across the UK?

We work extensively with Local Authorities, most frequently with Planning, Public Health, Parks and Recreation, and Capital Investment departments. Our clients are everyone who walks through a town square we have designed, who uses the historic park we have restored, who walks along the high street we have improved to include trees, seating areas, play and traffic-free zones. We work with Social Housing providers to improve the communal spaces, aiming to transform car and bin parks into green comfortable social places that residents can feel proud of. Our work in university campuses and residential developments seeks to give people comfortable, healthy places to work, socialize, and rest.

In the simplest of terms contact with nature is known to bring health and wellbeing benefits; at our core, LUC is about facilitating – through quality design and planning – this contact for all people, regardless of income, location or ability.

What should delegates think about, before the conference?

We all need to think about how we can work better across organisational/disciplinary/departmental boundaries – the complexity of public health problems and of our urban landscape require deep cross-silo thinking and collaboration. We need to take more action, more quickly, and together.

Local Authority delegates could think about identifying pockets of underused public spaces and mapping poorly connected neighbourhoods in their boroughs: these are places where intelligent co-design with community involvement can facilitate modest improvements to streetscapes or park entrances. For example adding a new path to create a catalyst for change, and build healthy connections where barriers have previously existed.

If you would like to learn more about LUC please visit https://landuse.co.uk/

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