Karen Esslemont


Karen is qualified as both Landscape Architect and Urban Designer. She has a background in both the public and private sectors and therefore insight to the workings of the development industry from all sides. She specialises in masterplanning encompassing capacity assessment, urban design, green infrastructure strategies, the provision of development briefs and urban regeneration.

Over the past 7 years she has been involved with the Scottish Government’s streets agenda for improved design, having co-authored PAN 76 (“New Residential Streets”, worked on research for delivering concurrent RCC and Planning Consent, and put the theory into practice through her involvement with the Polnoon exemplar project and then her contribution toward the development of Designing Streets. As part of the roll out of this document as national policy she has worked with WSP to provide training on this new approach to street design, funded by the Improvement Service and the Scottish Government and delivered within the last two years to almost every Local Authority within Scotland. She also provided training for the Improvement Service on the design of “Housing in the Countryside”.

Earlier in 2011 she was involved in a pilot programme for the Scottish Government called Drawing Places, encouraging planners and other officers within Local Authorities to rediscover their drawing skills as a means of better communication. This was widely considered to be a success.

She is often asked to act as facilitator and was an Enabler for Architecture +Design Scotland under their previous programme, facilitating studies in Neilston and in working with the National Health Service in order to encourage a masterplanned approach to their hospital campuses. She gave a paper on this at the NHS 60th Anniversary conference.

Specialist skills lie in bringing flair and good communication to a project in order to achieve creative and deliverable outcomes. She works with a number of housebuilders and private landowners in masterplanning urban areas ranging from small developments of around 15 new homes to large mixed-use urban expansions and new settlements of anything up to several thousand houses. Commissioned work currently embraces proposals for strategic land release through to masterplans supporting detailed applications. Demonstrating the three dimensional aspects of any design underpins her work and she is used to both working within and in managing a team to produce outcomes to which everyone feels that they have contributed. Some of her work has challenged the Development Plan process and she has experience of giving evidence to Hearings and Local Plan Inquiries.

Karen Esslemont