Visual Representation of development proposals

Posted by in Technical Guidance on 21st February 2020

TGN 06/19 Cover

Published in September 2019, the Landscape Institute (LI) has released a new Technical Guidance Note – ‘Visual Representation of Development Proposals’ (TGN 06/19) providing updated advice on the production of visual representations for development proposals in the UK.

These visualisations are typically made to support planning applications for various project proposals, and the methodology set out by the Landscape Institute provides an industry standard to which all views should be created from photography through to presentation and submission.

The updated guidance was pulled together over an extended number of years. Many different sources were asked for their input in the development of the new guidelines, including public sector representatives and industry experts. This means that the revised set of guidelines is fair to all those concerned while still pushing for the highest level of quality.

In simple terms, the guidance sets out the details for the production and preparation of various verified visualisations. These visualisations are broadly categorised into four different types, each with unique guidelines attached to them. These four types of visualisation are set out in Table 2 of the document as follows:

  • Type 1 – Annotated Viewpoint
  • Type 2 – 3D Wireline/3D Model/Augmented & Virtual Reality
  • Type 3 – Photomontage/Photo-wire
  • Type 3 – Photomontage/Photo-wire (Survey/Scale Verifiable)
Table 2
Table 2, page 11 – Visual Representation of Development Proposals LI TGN 06/19 © The Landscape Institute.

Each type of visualisation is useful in a different context. Having updated guidelines such as these provides clear insight into the correct methodologies for each visualisation. That said, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to creating images like these so TGN 19 allows room for practices to be adapted for specific proposals. It aims to give the relevant parties the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions in this field.

With that in mind, we shall briefly look at what each of the three types of visualisation look like in practice:

Type 1: Annotated Viewpoint Photographs

Annotated Viewpoint Photographs are usually used very early on in the lifecycle of a development proposal. They are photographs take of the site with simple annotations on them to explain where different parts of the development will be.

TGN 06-19 looks to standardise the presentation of these photographs to ensure high quality and understandability across the board. The photographs must be of a certain quality and resolution and there are specific rules about the type of lens used. This means that the photographs will not be panoramic or use an unusual focal length which would distort or misrepresent the view.

This new guidance puts standards in place about the presentation of Annotated Viewpoint Photographs which ensures that they are a large enough size for viewing.

Figure A8-1, Page 46: Cylindrical to Planar Projection
Figure A8-1, Page 46: Cylindrical to Planar Projection – Visual Representation of Development Proposals LI TGN 06/19 © The Landscape Institute.

Type 2: Wireline / 3D Model / Augmented & Virtual Reality

This set of visualisations serve a very different purpose to the previous category. For starters, they are not required to use a baseline photograph at all. They usually consist of computer-generated models which give a rough outline of the size and shape of the proposal.

There are a lot of different types of visualisations that fall into this category, including bird’s eye images through to augmented/virtual reality environments. Broadly speaking, the visualisations in this category do not try to be photorealistic or precisely technical. Instead they exist to capture the feeling of the proposal through its overall scale and size. As such, they are typically utilised early on in the planning process before the need for exact models and images arises.

Type 3: Photomontage / Photo-wire

This is perhaps the most clear-cut category of visualisation in TGN 06-19 as it can be simply understood to be about traditional digital photomontages. There is a slight difference in this category from Type 4, however, in that Type 3 images do not have to be perfectly accurate. There is less strict regulation about the precision of the photomontage as this version is meant to be more of a rough estimate of what the proposal will look like.

Usually, the process for producing a Type 3 image will closely mirror the process for a Type 4. However, the level of detail required is not as stringent for these.

Athena Photomontage
rbmp photomontage created to visualise the Athena bronze sculpture outside London City Airport.

Type 4: Photomontage / Photo-wire / Survey & Scale Verifiable

Type 4 visualisations are often the most technically precise of the set. They are most often used in sensitive locations where it is vital to gain an accurate visual representation of what a proposed development will look like in its real world surrounding.

These tend to be Verified Views and Photomontages. Visualisations that are technically precise in every detail, seamlessly merged with high-quality real-world photography to create an accurate depiction of the development.

AVR3 Verified View
rbmp AVR3 Type 3 Verified View as per Table 2 of Visual Representation of Development Proposals LI TGN 06/19.


In addition to these four categories, TGN 06-19 offers guidelines on appropriate methods of photography for visualisation work. Because of the nature of visualisation work, simple point-and-shoot photography is ineffective.

Precise details must be carefully considered. One of the most important of these is the lens utilised. The standard focal length in most cases is 50mm, although there are also cases in which 35mm and 28mm lens may be required, usually in urban settings. The use of tilt-shift lenses are also allowed if the location necessitates such a photograph.

Of course, the cameras themselves must be Full-Frame DSLR cameras that shoot high-resolution images. Tripods and other pieces of equipment are also required for more technically detailed photography, such as Type 4 photomontages.

rbmp 24mm tilt-shift camera setup

General Guidelines

TGN 06-19 is a very thorough document. It runs through 58 pages of detailed notes which lay out correct practice, good methodologies, and takes the time to explain each element in detail. By having such a detailed set of guidelines in place, all relevant parties can now be on the same page as to what is required when delivering high-quality visualisations.

Table and Diagram
Figure A3-1, page 34: Example of taking a panorama of 4 shots with 20° overlap & Table 5, page 21: Suitable photographic / print formats (Type 4) – Visual Representation of Development Proposals LI TGN 06/19 © The Landscape Institute

For more information you can read the full advice note here Visual Representation of Development Proposals LI TGN 06/19 or contact the Landscape Institute.