What is Design Review?

Design Review is a respected method of improving the quality of new development by offering constructive, impartial and expert advice. Design Review panel meetings allow local authorities, clients, developers and design teams to present their schemes at the pre-planning stage to a panel of experts from the built environment sector and benefit from the discussion and constructive advice of the panel.

Places Matter! Design Review consists of a panel of respected built environment professionals providing expertise from a range of fields including: Development, Architecture, Engineering, Planning, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design, Public Art and local planning.

The Places Matter! Design Review Panel, along with other design review services around the country, providing local planning authorities with access to independant practical design advice.

We would like to encourage you to take part in the process by either bringing forward schemes which may benefit from Design Review or attending as observer at one of our sessions, to experience the process for yourself and consider whether the service may become a useful tool as part of a wider consultation process for projects in your area.

The Ten Principles of Good Design Review

1. Independent It is conducted by people who are separate from the scheme promoter and decision-maker, and it protects against conflicts of interest.

2. Accountable It records and explains its advice and is transparent about potential conflicts of interest.

3. Expert It is conducted by suitably trained people who are experienced in design and know how to criticise constructively. Review is usually most respected where it is carried out by professional peers of the project designers, as their standing and expertise will be acknowledged.

4. Advisory It does not make decisions. It acts as a source of impartial advice for decision makers.

5. Accessible Its findings are clearly expressed in terms that decision-makers can understand and use.

6. Proportionate It is used on projects whose significance warrants the public investment of providing design review at national, regional and local level, as appropriate. Other methods of appraising design quality should be used for less significant projects.

7. Timely It takes place as early as possible in the life of a design because this saves the most time and costs less to make changes. If a planning application has already been made, it happens within the time-frame for considering it, and it is repeated when a further opinion is required.

8. Objective It appraises schemes in the round according to reasoned, objective criteria rather than the stylistic tastes of individual panel members.

9. Focused on outcomes for people It asks how a building or place can better meet the needs of the people using it, and of the public at large who are affected by it.

10. Focused on improving quality It constructively seeks to improve the quality of architecture, urban design, landscape, highway design and town planning.