Developers have welcomed a report proposing a new-look, localised Design Review framework for England, but have baulked at the new regime being funded via planning application fees.
Currently the Design Review initiative provides free expert advice on the design quality of schemes in England that will have a significant impact on their environment.
This service was originally provided by the Commission on Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), now merged with the Design Council.
Earlier this year the Council commissioned Peter Bishop, visiting professor in Architecture and the Built Environment at Nottingham Trent University and until recently the group director of design, development and environment at the London Development Agency, to examine the future of Design Review
He concluded that England needed a “networked system of design support, providing local people with access to built environment expertise and advice”. Specifically his report called for Design Review to be decentralised and made more accessible and responsive to local people and developers.
The British Property Federation (BPF) said the property industry would be willing in principle to help fund Design Reviews but urged greater clarity across a range of issues.
BPF’s chief executive Liz Peace said: “The Government’s proposed changes to planning policy place design firmly at the centre of the new planning system and so it is vital that we have a way of ensuring that local authorities can access independent and imaginative design advice needed to make sound planning decisions.
“Peter’s report sets out some creative ideas for achieving that – which I very much hope all stakeholders, including the development community, will support.
“Questions remain over which developments would be covered by the new regime. We would also need some further assurance regarding the materiality of Design Review recommendations in the planning process and on the general funding, governance and transparency of the whole Design Review framework.”
20 October 2011