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St Stephen

(courtesy Michael Hebbert)

Steve Tiesdell Legacy Seminar

Whither design review? John Punter Professor of Urban Design Cardiff University

Working with Steve • • • • • •

Urban Design in the Real Estate Process ‗Glasgow‘ in Urban Design and the Urban Renaissance Renaissance seminar in Glasgow January 2009 PhD examiner at Cardiff Numerous urban design seminars Recognition of Steve‘s work with Glasgow Urban Design Panel and the professional relationships he built • Celebrating his enjoyment of design review and placemaking in Glasgow

Design review’s effectiveness? • • • • •

‗Increasing the opportunity space‘ for design But questioning the effectiveness of design review Challenges to CABE design review in 2003/4: HoC review PRO: Grosvenor, Land Securities; Nottingham, Manchester Con: Property/surveying interests, RIBA, Conservation bodies

• Resulted in much more rigorous processes (conflicts of interest etc) • Systematic, criteria-based scrutiny, fuller commentaries • CABE‘s best practice design review protocols (2006; 2009) • Lasting questions about value of design review

Princesshay Exeter: Land Securities

Design review exemplars

Liverpool One/princesshay

Liverpool One: Grosvenor

Key critique of design review as practised by CABE 1999-2004 ―..unaccountability, lack of transparency, cliquism, groupism, stylism…excessive and single-minded enthusiasm for particular kinds of development, and not necessarily the kind favoured by local residents or their democratically elected representatives..‖ Hugh Pearman, London Evening Standard Demonstrated the need for more rigorous review processes Adoption of Nolan principles for public life Questioning of the panel‘s predilections Highlighted the potential conflicts with localism

Effectiveness of design review? 2009 data

% taking on advice


91% find advice beneficial


82% developers


% incorporated into reports

70% influence decisions


77% LPAs

New ADS data reveals much more nuanced statistics

66% developers

40% give significant weight

70% LPAs

% influential at committee



* CABE Chair acknowledges that figures on taking advice are ‗not enlightening‘: monitoring/measurement is superficial/problematic

Whither (wither?) design review? • • • • •

In England CABE downsized: retains only design review CABE‘s affiliated regional review network NPPF endorsement of design review: surprising? Bishop Review 2011: recommendations for future

• • • • •

Effectiveness/limitations of design review Design review and the recession Design review and localism Challenges to local design review practice Comparing these experiences with those in Scotland

Design Council Cabe continues design review

• CABE continues national review (200 pa: 80% London) • Establishes ‗affiliated network‘ of 8 regional panels‘: plus schools, Crossrail and Olympic panels • Reaches 85% of English LPAs • Half requested by LPAs, 30% developers, 10% locals • 70% returning schemes had improved! • 96% LPAs cite benefits: £2,872 per review: • Hope to continue review synopses • Workshops on waste facilities, mixed use housing, urban extension masterplans, LDFs etc

English Draft NPPF supports design review • NPPF retains strong endorsement of good design (2005) ‗good planning and good design are indivisible‘ • Some slippage back to negative advice of 1970s/1980s • Added ‗LPAs should have local design review arrangements… and refer major projects for national review..‘ para 120 • ‗significant weight to truly outstanding or innovative designs ..refuse obviously poor designs..‘ para 121 • Coalition/CLG is convinced by design review‘s contribution

Bishop Review 2011 (set up by Design Council Cabe) seeks to reinforce CABE design review • Recommends ‗design review be maintained as a bestpractice part of development process‘ • Reinforces role of national panel: supports flow of topic– based evidence/advice from reviews • Endorses affiliated regional panels to complete coverage • Recommends DCCabe accredit the 50+ local panels ? • Recommends design review reports be ‘given appropriate material weight in planning decisions’ ? • Suggests design reviews should be more ‗user friendly‘: constraint aware: quicker informal feedback

Bishop recognises crucial limitations of design review vis-à-vis design quality • Emphasises pivotal role of LPAs but ‗erosion of (their) design capacity/capability‘

• Recognises that review success depends entirely on what weight the case officer gives the review in his/her report • Recommends survey of staff skills, capacity and councillor training • Seeks further research to demonstrate the ‗value of urban design‘ and ‗emerging next practice‘ —implied criticisms of CABE‘s work: seeks ‗market realism‘ in design review

Design quality and the recession • Strangely absent from the design review debate • But Bishop identifies need for CABE to understand ‗next practice‘ and ‗cost effective‘ solutions • DCfW experience suggests significant downturn in investment in design 40and masterplanning etc 35 30 25

Exemplary Minor


Major Unacceptable



10 5 0 2006






Design review and localism • Bishop Review recommends DCLG research the design resources available to local/neighbourhoods groups • Consider what support the built environment professions and DCCabe might offer • DCCabe offer small grants to assist neighbourhood/ community groups to use design review • All outside established review processes • Many local panels keen to engage with local communities/ neighbourhoods • Many requests but major local political complications

Design review panels, amenity/neighbourhood groups and conservation committees • • • • •

Requests for these bodies to share their reports/expertise Local panels constrained by funded LPA advisory role; Perceptions of ‗working against the Council‘ Integration of bodies has to be politically led Bristol seeking to develop a City Design Initiative to achieve this through Chair of Environment & Property • Nottingham achieved culture change through design campaigns/partnerships/training/design review • Suggests some ways ahead: resources?

Challenges to local design review practice • LPA funded local panels face major resource constraints • Panels have to brief themselves: site visits, policy etc

• Now part of pre-application process but ideally earlier • • Need close working relationship with LPA devt. Management • • More emphasis on user friendly, speedy, workable advice • Sustained monitoring to ensure utility and effectiveness • • Charging will significantly reduce usage (Bishop)

Design review must evolve into workshops and more prolonged engagement • Refocusing to provide more training, support, guidance • The new A+DS model emerging from focused consultation • Model works across policy, briefing and scheme design • Prioritises early involvement in schemes • Local projects for the 5 local Scottish panels • • • •

DCfW wants to come off the ‗design review drug‘ Is the tragedy of CABE its retention of design review? Should it not be re-building a national design framework? Can design review go commercial?

John Punter - Whither Design Review  

John Punter Professor of Urban Design Cardiff University Steve Tiesdell Legacy Seminar St Stephen (courtesy Michael Hebbert)

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