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The following section outlines the Hertfordshire design review process, in line with Design Council CABE good practice guidance, and details how to prepare for a review, a typical review programme, and the final reporting stage.

Schemes can be referred for design review by the local planning authority, or a member of the project team. Depending on the type of review (design review panel or desktop review) the design review team requires between 2 and 4 weeks to arrange a review.

Prepare

Inception

Early discussion with the design review team is required to determine whether design review is appropriate, and what type of review would be most suitable.

  • Design Review Panel is a formal process where the project team presents their scheme to the panel, followed by a question and answers session. It gives the project team and the local planning authority the opportunity to engage in discussion and hear the panel’s views directly. 
  • Desktop review involves a smaller meeting between a Chair, a second panel member, and a representative of the design review team. Desktop review may be suitable for schemes that have previously been for review and have been amended, or where schemes are already in the planning system and subject to tight timescales for determination.

Once the review approach has been agreed, a design review pro forma should be submitted to the design review team by the project team or representatives of the client, and copied to the relevant Local Planning Authority.

The pro forma should provide background information and a description of the proposed development, and highlight the key design issues. The information provided will be used to help inform the assembly of an appropriately skilled and experienced panel, and identify any additional stakeholders that should be in attendance at the review, for example landowners, the highways authority, community groups or expert bodies with specialist interests.

A week before the design review, the project team must submit an electronic package of plans and documents, and a copy of the PowerPoint presentation, to the design review team. These materials will be forwarded to the panel members and other attendees alongside an agenda.

For more information about materials requirements, please refer to the project team briefing note and checklist.

Review

Attendees

The review is facilitated by the design review team, in addition to the panel representatives of the project team and the Local Planning Authority should be attendance, as well as other key stakeholders where appropriate.

The size of the panel can vary according to the scale and nature of the scheme and the range of skills and experience required, however typically includes a Chair alongside 2-3 panel members.

Observers, who are not directly engaged in the design review, but will benefit from an overview of the process, may also be invited to attend where appropriate. 

Agenda

Depending on the quantity, location, scale and nature of the scheme(s) submitted, the panel can review between 1 and 3 schemes in a day. In general, a small to medium scale development is likely to take half a day, and a large scale development is likely to take a whole day.

An outline of the review programme is given below:

  1. Welcome & Introductions
  2. Site visit
  3. Project Team Presentation
  4. The Local Planning Authority’s View
  5. Q&A session
  6. Conclusion & Summary
  7. Closed Panel Discussion

For more information about the review programme, please refer to the project team briefing note and checklist.

Report

After the review a panel report is issued to the project team and copied to the Local Planning Authority, within 10 working days. The report contains a brief overview of the review and a summary of the panel’s observations and recommendations for the next steps.

The report will state whether the panel feels:

  • This is a good project that they support as it stands.
  • This is a project that they could support provided improvements are made.
  • A fundamental re-think is required.

If a scheme is at the pre-application stage, the report is deemed confidential. If a scheme is at the full application stage, the report is considered a public document and is published on the Building Futures website.

For more information about the report and the legal issues surrounding its publication, please refer to legal issues.