Planning support for investors, developers and agents

Design reviews

All significant development proposals must be assessed by our Design Review panel. Their reviews take place at an early stage, before a planning application is submitted, while its easier for developers to change proposals.

Reviews remain confidential when part of a pre-application discussion, unless otherwise agreed. When considering schemes that have already been submitted for planning approval, the panel's report will become publicly available.

Our panel is drawn from leading national multi-disciplinary experts with a range of experience and specialism, who have been involved in delivering high quality policy and design.

A fee is charged for the development reviews to cover operational costs.

Review principles

All reviews are focused on outcomes for people. They explore how a building or place can better meet the needs of the people who will use it and those whom it will affect. It does this by seeking to improve the implementation and quality of:

  • architecture
  • urban design
  • landscape
  • transport
  • social infrastructure
  • highway design

What will be seen by the Design Review panel

The Design Review panel will look at:

  • comprehensive master plan reviews, including area-wide strategies such as urban realm, open space and infrastructure, including energy and waste
  • major development proposals that will have impact on a significant proportion of the site
  • development proposals with significant impact locally such as housing, a secondary school or public realm
  • small scale developments – for example, fewer than 50 homes
  • other plans that are assessed to be significant in terms of design, public interest or impact on a locality

We will decide which development proposals will be reviewed. Major and sensitive schemes will go before the panel while still at the pre-application stage, while there is the opportunity for the applicant and design team to modify the scheme in response to the review report.

Schemes can also be nominated after a planning application has been submitted.

Where appropriate, reviews will be preceded by a site visit.

Meetings of the Design Review panel

Each Design Review meeting has a dedicated Chair who works alongside a panel of between 3 and 6 experts selected from the larger Design Review pool, depending on the scale and type of the policy or proposal to be reviewed.

Meetings will not be open to the public as most development proposals will be reviewed at the pre-application stage. In general, a review will last approximately 2 hours, including a presentation by the applicant that may last up to 20 minutes. For larger projects, the review may be lengthened to allow enough time to properly present and assess the proposal.

At the end of each meeting, the Chair will present the panel's conclusions.

Where development proposals are subject to subsequent reviews, as far as possible, the same panel members will attend to achieve consistency.

To organise a Design Review, contact the case officer dealing with your planning application.