Last edited 01 Mar 2021

Design review panels

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out government planning policy for England. It was first published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (now the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)) on 27 March 2012.

The NPPF states:

'Local planning authorities should ensure that they have access to, and make appropriate use of, tools and processes for assessing and improving the design of development. These include workshops to engage the local community, design advice and review arrangements, and assessment frameworks such as Building for Life [Birkbeck D and Kruczkowski S (2015) Building for Life 12: The sign of a good place to live]. These are of most benefit if used as early as possible in the evolution of schemes, and are particularly important for significant projects such as large scale housing and mixed use developments. In assessing applications, local planning authorities should have regard to the outcome from these processes, including any recommendations made by design review panels.'

Design review panels include independent professionals with architecture and design expertise. They are able to assess planning proposals for developments and provide advice and support to the applicant and to planning officers to help deliver high quality design. Panels have an advisory role only and do not have any formal decision-making powers. Design reviews are not open to the public.

Design reviews were first undertaken by the Royal Fine Art Commission in 1924. This role was transferred to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe) in 1999. In 2011, Cabe was merged with the Design Council to become Design Council Cabe. Today, many local authorities have design review panels, and there are panels for some regions.

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