Coop in focus: Landvision South East

From Landvision website:

Landvision are Landscape Architects and Landscape Consultants. As a  multi-disciplinary environmental consultancy Landvision provide specialist landscape consultant input into projects such as ecology surveys for developers. We provide Landscape Architecture, arboriculture and ecology input, aswell as landscape design–landscape management–tree surveys–tree reports–ecology surveys. Our landscape management plans can cover are woodland, grassland and Biodiversity Action Plan species (BAP) .

Past projects of Landvision include minerals and waste, residential developments, sites from application to development, health care projects including higher density assisted living and Care Homes; industrial developments, semi rural and rural developments, as well as brown field regeneration sites
We currently provide input as landscape consultants to engineers, architects, developers, builders, planning officers, local authorities and private clients. We provide landscape design, landscape management and ecology input for schools and colleges’ grounds and offer expert advice to large landowning charities.

Landvision has considerable experience in the field of landscape planning and has given evidence at Public Inquiry with barristers from Landmark Chambers, London, as well as working on major infrastructure project Public inquiries, before they gained planning approval.
Our objectives are to optimise development potential whilst creating landscape proposals that are robust and pragmatic, whilst also conserving landscape character, enhancing townscape and visual amenity for future generations.

Enter Ian Noel:

What were your biggest challenges on day one?

Trying to find an accountant who understands us. Then it would be getting the work and being paid for it in a timely fashion.

What or who was the biggest help?

The internet is a powerful resource which we use daily, be it for our website or more likely for our email. It allows us to send files, to talk to clients and to chat to people who are carrying out work for us.

How did you go about getting funding?

We do not need funding in the traditional sense of the word i.e. via a bank. We had help through Co-operatives UK in setting up the cooperative. We will use directors loans to bring the asset’s over from the partnership. So only notional money which is transferred.

What problem is your business solving?

We help clients to obtain planning permission, or to comply with planning consent.

How did you find out that this problem exists?

We have been in business for 10 years. We originally started trying to do small garden designs for private clients. It was when some of those private clients put us in touch with Architects and they asked us for help with landscape planning that we eventually found our niche market.

Why a coop, why not a regular business?

Firstly we feel a coop has the potential to be a better way of ownership. We hopefully can attract better employees.

What type of cooperative are you?

A Limited Company, worker Co operative. We are also an enterprise cooperative.

What is your cooperative’s income sharing structure?

Via Dividends.

What is your decision making process?

For long term decisions we will sit down and talk/argue about it. We discuss day to day tasks and make a list of things to do, twice a week.

How quickly can you make decisions?

It can be slow when we do not agree, but I believe you need someone in charge to make changes. Once a decision is made, everyone should accept it and work towards that goal. If something urgent comes up, then any member of the workers cooperative can make a decision to help a client or protect the coop on their own.

How would you compare the individual level of autonomy as compared to a regular employment?

We are professionals who need to make decisions about our areas of expertise. We have the same autonomy as regular employment. We probably a little bit more autonomy in some areas.

What extra advice can you give to would be founders of coops?

Ask for help if you need it. Seek advice on the form of Coop you should set up. Think about money and cash flow. How are you going to achieve your goals and who can help you to do this?

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