RIBA London advocates the use of local design review panels by local authorities in Greater London as a means to support design and development in the planning system.
What is Design Review?
It is a forum for locally contentious schemes to be peer reviewed or assessed. They aim to help improve the quality of the built environment by positively encouraging good design and criticising poor design.
Where in place, they help local authority Planning Departments in determining whether schemes are truly high quality and to be promoted, mediocre and in need of improvement or of little quality and worthy of redesign or refusal.
Scheme assessment is made by an independent panel of experts from a cross section of professional backgrounds - typically a mix of architects, planners, engineers and landscape architects.
How does a 'Review' work?
Pre-application schemes are selected by the planning department as suitable to be taken to the design review panel. Generally the applicants architects present the scheme, answer questions and then the panel discusses the scheme and the applicants receive a critical appraisal from the panel. This typically lasts an hour. Each panel meeting has 6 - 8 members including a chair, selected from a panel membership of around 24.
What is happening in London?
The Design Planning and Policy Group (DPPG) is working with London Boroughs to establish panels where there are resources to do so. Since 2006, it has been liaising with councils to assess need, requirement and interest. The DPPG with RIBA London offers support, guidance and logistical asisstance to help establish panels.
In 2010, it helped establish a specialist Street Scene panel for Transport for London (TFL) and in 2011 has been working with Kensington & Chelsea Council and Hammersmith & Fulham Council to procure and assist with a project specific panel for the Earls Court redevelopment.