Design Enabling Panel launched

A new Design Enabling Panel has launched in South Cambridgeshire to encourage design excellence in large scale developments across the district.

The independent panel will draw on a pool of external design expertise, supported by experienced officers from within South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC), to peer assess a range of new development schemes.

The panel’s role is to review development proposals and provide constructive advice to developers and their design teams that will enable them to enhance the design quality of significant projects in order to promote sustainable communities.

The panel is a way of testing and refining proposed ideas and it is expected that all major and significant development will be brought to the panel prior to the submission of a planning application.

Presenting proposals early on will give design teams time to respond to panel advice and address design concerns prior to application – providing more assurances for the developer and helping to reduce risks and delay costs further down the planning process.

Following a competitive application process, the panel has been formed of more than 30 design experts who have delivered high profile schemes across the south east of England, and who understand the development pressures facing the area.

Their experience spans architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, historic environment and sustainability.

The panel is chaired by Graham Whitehouse, director of GWP Architects Limited, with the support of vice chairs Russell Brown, of Hawkins\Brown, and Simon Carne, of Simon Carne Architect.

The panel will meet every six weeks to review three development schemes and conduct site visits, offering design practitioners constructive and impartial design advice from fellow professionals who are able to assess the proposals from a variety of perspectives.

Following the meeting, the panel will produce a report with recommended actions or options for improvement that will consider the architecture of individual buildings as well as the impact of the proposed development on the wider context, including the character, quality and sustainability of the existing location.

SCDC cabinet member with responsibility for planning and economic development, Cllr Nick Wright, said: “The panel is a great new resource that will help us to understand and promote high quality development design.

“It will lead to the delivery of better schemes as well as to develop a more informed community of practitioners working within the local area.”

Graham Whitehouse, chairman of the new Design Enabling Panel, said, “It has been great to see SCDC assemble a Design Enabling Panel with such a wide range of expertise and experience, especially at a time when we are experiencing growing pressure for development and increasing awareness of the role design quality has to play.

“I very much hope that a collaborative approach to new proposals, through timely consultation, will be a positive experience that delivers a better quality built environment for all.”

Cllr Robert Turner, chairman of SCDC planning committee, said: “The panel will provide independent design advice of the highest quality to help members of the planning committee in the decision making process.”

For all the latest news see Thursday’s (May 15) Echo.