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Do you need winter photography for your development?

16 Dec 2021

Not just a seasonal hobby; there’s more to winter photography than meets the eye. Winter photography provides a solid foundation for your site development project – vastly increasing your plan’s approval chances. Read on to find out how.

What is winter photography?

Winter photography is a critical aspect of visual impact assessments, it makes a robust case for your planning application. Development, by its very nature, considers the future so it’s only natural to consider seasonality (seasonal changes).

Winter photography tells a story. It sets the scene: highlighting important views, giving context, and illustrating the visual impact during the colder months – when there’s less leaf cover.

Why winter photography is important

Winter photography guarantees the worst-case scenario and is assessed from the most sensitive locations, in keeping with Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (GLVIA3)–which establishes best practice with completed Landscape and Visual Impact Assessments (LVIAs).

Changing outdoor elements can vastly impact the impression of a development scheme. What may seem harmonious during summer, where greenery can alter lighting (and provide natural cover), may raise complaints in the harsh light of winter, as trees are stripped of their leaves – exposing more of the development.

Winter photography ensures the strongest case for your site. Without it, it’s difficult to know how your development will impact the views.

When should winter photography be planned?

No prizes for guessing …. winter photography is usually captured during the colder months, between autumn and spring. On the day of the shoot, there are important factors to consider:

  • The sun needs to be either behind the camera or to the side (i.e. west in the mornings or east in the evenings). If it’s directly over the site, your photographer will be dealing with too much light
  • Capturing photographs clockwise, from north-east to north-west, during winter will accommodate the lower sun position.
  • We need to get up early to make the most of the limited daylight hours

Before your photographer completes their site visit, there are a few things they need to do:

  • Review ordnance survey mapping, aerial photography and topography data to understand where views are possible.
  • Agree viewpoints with the local authority.
  • Running a Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV) will test the hypothetical extent of visibility in the surrounding landscape, as well as elevation.

Overall, these precautionary tasks will provide a comprehensive scope of the site, supplying deeper context and allowing stakeholders to reach an informed decision.

Who needs winter photography?

Winter photography is often required to support technical and complicated reports such as Landscape Visual Impact Assessments (LVIA), Appraisals, and Environment Impact Assessments (EIA). These assessments help decision-makers determine the effects of a proposal and whether to accept or reject any applications.

In some cases, winter photography is requested by the Council, to make the worst-case visual scenarios for the site more apparent.

It’s also possible to complete winter photography for upcoming projects before most of the work begins. Having the images on file allows for fewer disruptions once works are underway.

When considering suppliers…

Look for members of the Landscape Institute. And check to see if the landscape planning consultancy in question has experience dealing with the particulars of your development.

For example, our case studies highlight the type of clients we’ve worked with and the developments we’ve helped get over the line.


What is “good” winter photography?

Best-practice winter photography should:

  • Tell a story and capture the full extent of the site, clearly showing the effect the development will have on the view. Sometimes, it might be worth including additional photographs that don’t show the site, giving context by displaying the surrounding features, like intervening cover on a footpath.
  • Ensure the foreground doesn’t block the site unless it’s to demonstrate context.
  • Meet the technical guidance, Landscape Institute TGN 06/19 Visual Representation of Development Proposals.

Your chosen photographer should also have used public viewpoint locations in line with GLVIA3, as well as public viewpoints on private land, such as National Trust locations and Scheduled Ancient Monuments.


Winter photography you can rely on

Now you understand the importance of winter photography. It’s an essential step in making sure your development works with nature across every season, and a deciding factor when it comes to the success of your application.

Now is a fantastic time to get in touch about winter photography to strengthen your site development plans.

Contact us today and we’ll brace the bitter elements for you.

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