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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 80 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

Exeter Quay - Rockfish Restaurant

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

Extra Care Development by Sarah Wigglesworth Architects

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

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

The Design Review Panel offers both in-person and online design review panel sessions. 

Design Review Panel site visits can be carried out in-person or online using 360 degree virtual photographic tours (click here to see an example).

Design Review Panel sessions should be booked using our online design review panel booking system.

'The Design Review Panel' TM operates nationally, providing an impartial, multi-disciplinary, constructive, expert, design 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 138 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
About The Design Review Panel TM

The Design Review Panel TM 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 Design Review Panel provides impartial expert feedback 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 impartial, independant design review services directly to applicants as well as to local authorities. 

Unlike most other design review panels, our Panel (The Design Review Panel™) is truly independent from both applicants and the decision makers/local planning authorities; for example, we do not enter into ongoing framework/contractual agreements to be a local authority's preferred design review panel as this, in our opinion, may represent a financial conflict of interest and would also mean needing to agree to their operating T&Cs, impacting on the independent and impartial nature of the process and feedback provided.

As a national design review panel, we are able to provide local knowledge while also benefiting from a wide range of expertise and a large pool of volunteer experts from across the country. This ensures that we can offer the most appropriate expertise for each project, while avoiding any local conflicts of interest. Our comprehensive approach combines an understanding of local contexts with innovative perspectives and best practices from various regions, enhancing the quality and impartiality of our design reviews.


About The Design Review Panel

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.

Guide for local authorities red.webp
Guide for consultants red.webp

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. 


Sample Design Review Panel Case Studies

Sample Design Review Panel Case Studies

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 built environment 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 and provide constructive comments and suggestions on aspects that may benefit from further consideration or improvement. 

Therefore The Design Review Panel TM process:-


  • 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.

10 Principles of  Design Review












Andy Robbins Service Lead City Development at Exeter City Council and Alison Fish a Chartered Town Planner and Area Planning Officer at Mid Devon District Council share their experinces of working with our independant, impartial and multidiciplinary Design Review Panel.


“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

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