The Design Review Panel Gaining Excellent Reputation


Since its launch, the Devon and Somerset Design Review Panel has received excellent feedback from applicants, and design teams submitting schemes for review.

Having recently presented to the Devon and Somerset Design Review panel, Chartered Architect Peregrine Mears (Director, Peregrine Mears Architects Ltd) said:

“We opted to use the services of the Devon Design Review Panel earlier this year for a £7.6m education project we are working on. That decision was made on the suggestion of the planning officer during the pre-application process. A key part of our choosing to go through the DRP process was to hopefully have some independent verification to inform and justify the scheme to avoid local councilors meddling with the design and / or delaying the planning decision. So it was something of a gamble as we had not used a DRP before.

However we needn’t have worried as it proved to be a painless process. Panel members were very enthusiastic about our approach and the way we had developed the proposals. That made for a relaxed atmosphere and encouraged positive dialogue on both sides. 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.”

The panel’s fast growing extremely positive reputation is no doubt largely due to the panel’s multidisciplinary and independent nature as well as its focus on the importance of context and importance of P.L.A.C.E (bringing together planning, landscape, architecture, conservation and engineering).

It is therefore extremely encouraging that the Farrell Review, recently published, promotes the importance of ‘PLACE’ in the Design Review process.

The Farrell Review also reinforces the culture of the Devon and Somerset Design Review Panel, by acknowledging the importance of Design Review being collaborative and being carried out as part of the early stages of the design process. The Devon and Somerset Design Review Panel adopts this approach and seeks to be considered as a positive and constructive useful part of the design stage rather than part of the decision making stage.

The Devon and Somerset Design Review Panel is an excellent tool for design teams to engage with as part of the pre application stage of an application. By engaging at an early stage design teams, and therefore applicants, can benefit from advice and guidance form a multidisciplinary panel of their peers and help to reduce the uncertainty and therefore risk at the decision making stage.

The panel continues to catch the imagination of design team construction industry professionals across the region with the pool of available panel members doubling in the six months since launch. There are currently over 40 panel pool members, and growing, who volunteer to provide design review across Devon and Somerset.

All design professionals working in the built environment are passionate about the subject and the design review panel offers an opportunity to positively contribute to, and or, benefit from, peer review, as well as to help contribute the high quality of the built environment in the South West.

Taking part in panel sessions is also great CPD, networking and thoroughly enjoyable.

Tony Pollintine – Director, Grainge Architects Exeter & Design Review Panel member said:-

"Working with fellow design professionals on the Devon & Somerset Review Panel offers the opportunity for participants to share ideas & best practice methodology whilst considering a variety of project types”

(Image courtesy of Peregrine Mears Architects - www.mearsarchitects.com)

Post written by Jonathan Braddck Chartered Architects Devon.

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