The Forum Exeter, Devon

An RIBA south west award wining building at Exeter University in Devon; The Forum. This building benefited from design review during the design and pre-planning stage

Design Review Panel Training 2018

Design Review Panel training session carried out in Taunton and the Somerset County Cricket Ground in November 2018. The event was extremely well attended by local authority representatives, house builders and design team members

Exeter Quay by Jonathan Braddick

Photograph of Exeter Quay taken by Architect and Design Review Panel Manager Jonathan Braddick. The Design Review Panel holds regular design review panel sessions at Exeter City Council

Design Review Panel Training 2018

Design Review Panel training event 2018. Jonathan Tricker, Highways Engineer, Urban Designer & Director at Phil Jones Associates, gave a talk entitled: ‘Highway Design in Placemaking’

Steiner School Exeter

The design review Panel was engaged by Willmott Dixon during the pre-application design stage of the project to help them prepare a design that would be acceptable to the local authority

Design Review Panel Site Visit Poole

Photograph from a 2018 design review panel site visit carried out in Dorset in 2018. A full sit down design review panel was subsequently held in the Poole Borough Council Offices

North Grays Farm Para 79 House

External visualization for a NPPF paragraph 55 (now 79) house that was presented to the design review panel. This project has subsequently gone on to achieve planning permission and is now built on site

Design Review Panel Training 2017

Design Review Panel training session carried out in Exeter, Devon in December 2017. The event was extremely well attended by local authority representatives, house builders and design team members

Para 79 House by Hawkes Architecture

Para 79 House in Dover Kent by Hawkes Architecture

Rockfish Exeter Quay

A small but sensitive project in Exeter Quay; The Rockfish Restaurant has been designed by Grainge Architects who engaged with The Design Review Panel during the design & pre -application planning stage

Pegasus Life Project Sidmouth Devon

Pegasus Life secured planning permission through public inquiry for a Sarah Wigglesworth Architects scheme for a C2 assisted living community at The Knowle, Sidmouth, Devon. The Design Review Panel ( were instructed by East Devon District Council (EDDC) to provide multidisciplinary, expert, independent and impartial guidance and feedback to the local authority, applicant and design team during the pre-application design stage.

Plymouth Hoe

Photograph of Plymouth Hoe, Devon. The Design Review Panel holds regular design review panel sessions at Plymouth City Council

Design Review Panel Training 2017

Design Review Panel training session carried out in Exeter, Devon in December 2017. The event was extremely well attended and incorporated a mock design review panel session and design workshop

COVID-19 Adjustments; 

We are supporting applicants & local authorities by providing our services online, using video conferencing & remote desktop reviews. In this way we are offering high quality, expert, multidisciplinary & independent design review panel services.

Sessions should be booked using our online booking system.

 'The Design Review Panel TM operates nationally, providing an impartial, multi-disciplinary, constructive, expert, review process during the pre-application stage of the planning process, to applicants & local authorities. Feedback from The Design Review Panel TM is a material consideration in planning application process , as per paragraph 129 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) 
About The Design Review Panel TM

The Design Review Panel comprises a group of independent, multi-disciplinary construction professionals working in the field of the built environment. Click here to meet the Panel members...


The Panel provides impartial expert advice to applicants and local authorities on design issues in relation to important new development schemes and proposals for important public spaces, including both significant minor applications, major planning applications and pre-application development proposals.


As stated within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the Design Review Panel's feedback is a material consideration for local authorities and the planning inspectorate when determining planning applications. The Design Review Panel provides its services directly to applicants as well as to local authorities. 


The Design Review Panel operates nationally across England including in:- Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Bristol, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, City of London, Cornwall, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Durham, Yorkshire, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucestershire, London, Manchester, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Shropshire, Somerset, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Tyne and Wear, Warwickshire, West Midlands, West Sussex, West Yorkshire, Wiltshire & Worcestershire.


To book a Design Review Panel Session, Click Here...


The Design Review Panel operates in accordance with the publication entitled:- ‘Design Review: Principles and Practice’:- This document was jointly produced by CABE at the Design Council, the Landscape Institute, the RTPI & the RIBA. 

January 2020:

Two publications ‘Design Review Panel: A guide for Developers & Applicants' and ‘Design Review Panel: A guide for Local Authorities'  These have been produced by The Design Review Panel to provide guidance to applicants, design team & local authorities on how to best use The Design Review Panel as part of the planning process.


Sample Design Review Panel Case Studies

Sophia Student Accommodation
Sophia Student Accommodation

Reviewed by The Design Review Panel in 2017 & now being constructed on site (2019), 600 student accommodation units, with ground level retail, restaurant uses, designed by MAKE & AHR. The development will achieve BREEAM Excellent and will be a positive addition to the Exeter skyline.

Firepool Mixed Use Regeneration
Firepool Mixed Use Regeneration

This £105 million development in Taunton, (by LHC & Stephen George & Partners LLP) is to deliver a mixed-use scheme with a waterfront setting. To include offices, retail, cinema leisure, restaurants, hotel & new homes, together with associated landscaping, public realm, infrastructure & parking. Initially the Panel was not supportive of the proposals & the scheme was refused by the local authority. Following further input from the Panel the scheme was granted planning permission.

Assisted Living Accommodation
Assisted Living Accommodation

A C2 assisted living community in Devon for Pegasus Life. The Design Review Panel were instructed by East Devon District Council (EDDC) to provide guidance & feedback during the pre-application design stage. The Panel reviewed the scheme several times & ultimately supported the high-quality design. EDDC refused the scheme & the proposals were approved at appeal. The Planning Inspector stated the applicant’s engagement with The Design Review Panel as a reason for approval

UKHO Offices
UKHO Offices

Reviewed by The Design Review Panel in 2016 & now completed on site, the new headquarters for the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), was designed by AHR. The existing site contained fourteen different buildings, serving a mixture of industrial & office functions. The scheme involves the construction of new office accommodation of around 11,000 m2 & achieves a BREEAM Excellent rating.

Rockfish Restaurant, Historic Quay
Rockfish Restaurant, Historic Quay

A proposal to create a single storey, pavilion restaurant in the historic Exeter Quay by Grainge Architects. First reviewed by The Design Review Panel in 2017. The scheme has obtained planning approval and is currently being constructed on site (due for completion during early 2019)

Drake Circus Leisure / Commercial
Drake Circus Leisure / Commercial

Leisure Complex by Corstorphine + Wright architects; comprising an 11 screen cinema, 13 restaurant units and a sky bar - 15/00159/FUL Rob Heard, Planning Officer, Plymouth City Council: “The Design Panel Review provided articulate comments that both the Planning Officer and the applicants found useful during the period leading up to the submission of a formal planning application."

North Grays Farm - Para 55 /79 House
North Grays Farm - Para 55 /79 House

An Exceptional and Innovative New Country House (NPPF Para 55) East Devon District Council 14/0088/FUL. The planning consultant for the project, James Ellis, Associate Planner at Rural Solutions Ltd, ( has said:- "We would be pleased to recommend the [Devon & Somerset] Design Review Panel to other projects team considering third party review.”

Kingston Road, Apartments
Kingston Road, Apartments

Block of 40 New Apartments Taunton Deane Borough Council 38/13/0420 Architect, Jonathan Scanlan, Director of Reed + Holland Associates:- "It is our honest opinion that the feedback of the Design Review Panel played a significant role in persuading the members of the Committee that the scheme that might otherwise have challenged the views of some of the Committee members ... This experience has demonstrated to us the worth of the Design Review Panel and the contribution that it can make"

Steiner School
Steiner School

Construction & Refurbishment of Exeter’s new Steiner Academy Exeter City Council—13/5108/03 Laura Davies, RIBA, Design Manager at Willmott Dixon Construction Limited:- "...We found the Panel to be most professional and very forthcoming on ideas to better the scheme that didn’t impact on the project’s budget, ... We would certainly recommend the Panel’s input on design and we look forward to working with the Panel again on future projects in the region.”

Walled Garden, Para 55 (79) House
Walled Garden, Para 55 (79) House

Paragraph 55 house designed by architects McLean Quinlan. The proposed house was granted planning approval in 2016 under the “Paragraph 55” exception (now paragraph 79) having been presented to The Design Review Panel (aka The Devon and Somerset Design Review Panel).

Farleigh Meadows, Housing Masterplan
Farleigh Meadows, Housing Masterplan

A New Residential Development of 257 Houses Mid Devon District Council 14/01047/MARM Simon Trafford, Area Planning Officer, Mid Devon District Council said: "Without input from the Panel the LPA’s job in terms of persuading and guiding the applicants team to a more acceptable scheme would have been made even harder.”

Petroc College, Educational
Petroc College, Educational

Petroc College Replacement Teaching Blocks North Devon District Council - 57308 Peregrine Mears, Director at Peregrine Mears Architects Ltd said: " ... Panel members were very enthusiastic about our approach and the way we had developed the proposals... The scheme has definitely improved as a result and the planning application process has been easier. All in all we found the experience to be enjoyable and of real benefit so we would certainly recommend it.”

10 Principles of  Design Review











Aims & Objectives of The Design Review Panel TM

The aim of The Design Review Panel is to improve design quality in the built environment. Its role is to review development proposals and provide feedback to developers, clients and local authorities. Design review is a very valuable opportunity to get additional expert help with the project. Projects will be presented to a Panel with at least 50 years combined experience in all aspects of design and built environment. We want to work with you to make the project as good as it possibly can be, for the benefit of the design team, the client, the local authority, the future users of the project and the public at large.


The Design Review Panel is not there to pass judgment; we aim to provide a constructive conversation about your project, the result of which is better design. The overwhelming majority of people who present to our Design Review Panel find it to be a positive and immensely useful experience.


The objective is to provide an independent, impartial evaluation process, where a multi-disciplinary panel of built environment experts assess the design of significant proposals. 

Therefore The Design Review Panel TM:-


  • will be conducted by an independent panel of multi-disciplinary experts – practitioners with a different range of current experience and expertise in design and construction. As a prerequisite to joining the panel, these practitioners will have demonstrated a track record of good design in their own projects and the skills to appraise schemes objectively.

  • exists to offer applicants and their design teams with clear and constructive comments and guidance on schemes, aiding their improvement, but not to fundamentally redesign them.


  • advises and empowers the decision makers on how to improve design quality, so as to meet the needs of their communities and customers.


  • will support decision makers in resisting poorly designed schemes.


  • will support applicants and decision makers in gaining planning approval for well designed schemes.


Andy Robbins Service Lead City Development at Exeter City Council and Jenny Clifford, Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration at Mid Devon District Council.


“The Design Review Panel provides an opportunity for developers and local authorities alike to have access to some of the best built environment practitioners in the region. Working together proactively and passionately we can raise the quality of urban living and conserve and enhance the places that make our County the best in the country.” - Andy Robbins - Development Manager, Exeter City Council