Obituary: Peter Geoffrey Daniel, landscape architect

Landscape architect and town planner. Picture: Stuart Cobley
Landscape architect and town planner. Picture: Stuart Cobley
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Born 6 November, 1924; Died 30 November, 2015, aged 91.

During service in the RNVR in the Second World War, Peter Daniel served on the Arctic convoys and later in the Pacific, witnessing the aftermath of the Hiroshima bomb and the liberation of Hong Kong. On 15 July, 2013, along with 20 other veterans, he finally received the Arctic Star from Prime ­Minister David Cameron and Russian president Vladimir Putin at Downing Street.

Peter graduated from Liverpool University in architecture and civic design in 1953. He also qualified as a landscape architect, mentored by the late Frank Clark. After spending an unfulfilled year in Canada to seek work, he returned permanently to the UK. His major contribution to town planning was his involvement in the New Towns of Peterlee and Livingston (1955-1964). In Peterlee, he worked on the South West Housing Area project, together with Frank Dixon and the abstract artist Victor Pasmore.

In 1962 he was appointed planning officer for Livingston New Town, and the plan was accepted in 1963. Peter always said that his greatest success here was in removing the line of the new M8 motorway from the Almond Valley where he wished to locate the town centre. His biggest regret was failing to convince Heriot Watt University to establish their campus in Livingston.

In 1962, Peter was heavily involved both as chairman of the organising party and host in a ground-breaking conference on landscape policy for Scotland. Some 50 years later, he addressed a similar gathering at which he received alifetime achievement award from the Landscape Institute of Scotland.

From 1964 until 2014 he practised as a consultant working on his own and with ­other groups of architects and planners. In 1967, he wrote the souvenir programme for the landmark exhibition “Two Hundred Summers in a City” celebrating Edinburgh New Town’s bicentenary.

Important projects he worked on include the Londonderry Plan and a proposed new town in Abu Dhabi (with Consarc); a tourist strategy for Jordan (with John Patterson); numerous environmental improvement projects in Glasgow and the Central Belt (with ADF); housing studies and the restoration of Strathpeffer Station for Ross and Cromarty Council (with Vanessa Halhead); proposals for the Balancing Lakes in Craigavon New City (with Seamus Filor); projects in Orkney and Jersey (with Ben Tindall); and more recently an interpretation exercise for the River Tweed (with James Carter), quarry restoration projects and environmental studies of the four Scottish Botanical Gardens (with Siobhan Mc Dermot).

Peter’s other contribution to the profession of landscape architecture was as a studio tutor on the Master of Landscape Architecture Programme at the University of Edinburgh from 1973 until he reluctantly retired in 2002. In this period, 420 students experienced his challenging approach to teaching, several of whom later became professional colleagues. He always encouraged the students to rigorously test their ideas against the realities of client brief and site character.

Peter always seemed to choose unusual and neglected properties as homes, beginning with Oakerside Cottage while in Peterlee. This was followed by Cambusnethan Priory in the Clyde Valley; Borthwick Castle in Midlothian and Wedderburn Castle, a Robert Adam castellated mansion in the Borders. These were all rented, but in 1979 he bought the listed Church House in Berwickshire. Here from a barren potato field he created a beautiful series of enclosed spaces culminating in a vista to the Cheviot Hills.

Peter married Helen Cockrell (deceased 2014) in 1953 and divorced in 1974. He is survived by his three children, William, Tacye and Sarah, plus three grandchildren and two great-grand children.