Reviews and Surgeries provide ideas and observations from experienced professionals and can be a very useful and practical type of support. This is promoted in the National Planning Policy Framework, which says ‘local planning authorities should have local design review arrangements in place to provide assessment and support to ensure high standards of design.’(p 62, NPPF, DCLG 2012)
UDL runs bi monthly review and surgery days which are free for our members to use. As all London boroughs subscribed to UDL for 2012/13 they can all use this service if they wish and so have access to London specific, ‘local’ design review if they don’t have a borough panel. DC CABE is also offering reviews of London schemes. So London is pretty well set to meet the NPPF requirement.
For the first 5 months of 2012 we saw 19 schemes ranging from converting offices to flats to major estate renewal plans. We see both public realm schemes and proposals which will lead to plans or planning applications. We work in partnership with TfL to run reviews of over £2mil street schemes, and public realm improvements around Crossrail stations.
Our sessions are generally pretty informal but this does not reduce the quality and usefulness of comments given and they are a form of design review. Our panel of advisors are highly skilled and experienced, not only in design, but in offering insightful and helpful advice.
The sessions are flexible and if more formal Design Reviews with written output is required, we can do this at a small extra cost (around £300) to cover the write up time. But most of the time people seem to like the more informal sessions which:
- Provide useful and practical advice and support to those with responsibility for negotiating and deciding schemes – normally the local authority, TfL or RSLs. They make the decisions, not the reviewing panel.
- Do not require the production of extra presentation materials. People tend to find the sessions a good catalyst to crystallize their thinking and they often put together presentations, but we do not require models or presentation boards to be produced.
- Allow for a helpful conversation around merits, problems and possible improvements to schemes. We all sit around a table together and those bringing schemes do not have to defend them against every comment made. In this way ideas build into a better overall review.
- Do not redesign the scheme. This would not be practical or useful, but the panel’s fresh eye can normally introduce new design options.
Here are the session dates coming up for 2013. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will find a time and the experts to give you the best chance of designing a great scheme.
9 May – Street Schemes
23May – Housing & Planning Schemes
6 June – Street Schemes
19 June – Housing & Planning Schemes
4 July – Street Schemes
18 July – Housing & Planning Schemes
5 September- Street Schemes