Planning Inspectorate Gives Significant Weight to Applicant’s Engagement with the Design Review Pane

The Design Review Panel are delighted to see that the Planning Inspectorate has given significant weight to feedback given by a design review panel for a student accommodation proposal in Guilford.

Stone Grove Stoke Park Limited and their agents Montagu Evans have secured planning permission at a planning appeal for the demolition of existing buildings and their redevelopment to provide purpose-built 553 bed student accommodation. (Appeal Ref: APP/Y3615/W/18/3195333).

The applicant and design team engaged with the design review panel process, on a number of occasions, as part of the Guildford Borough Council pre-application planning process; it is extremely positive to see that Guilford Borough Council encourage engagement with the design review panel process alongside their own pre-application process in recognition that design review panels can provide multidisciplinary, expert, independent and impartial guidance and feedback to the local authority, applicant and design team.

As above, the planning application was for the demolition of existing buildings and redevelopment to provide purpose-built student accommodation with 553 bed-spaces, 149sqm D1 floorspace, 969sqm of student amenity space including a gym and student hub and associated works. The application site was Land at Guildford College Stoke Park Campus, Stoke Road, Guildford, GU1 1EZ.

The only two issues stated by the planning inspector as needing consideration as part of the planning appeal were:

  • character & appearance of the area, and

  • supply of and demand for car parking

Within the Planning Inspectors decision document, he notes that the stripped-back simplicity of form and decoration results from feedback given during the design review panel process; it is also noted by the Planning Inspector that the applicant engaged with the design review panel process on two occasions during the pre-application design stage.

The Planning Inspector goes on to explicitly give significant weight to the design review panel process, and states feedback give as part of the design review panel process as one of the reasons for approval, the Inspectors decision notice states: -

“Although the advice of the Design Panel conflicts with policy G5(6) of Guildford Borough Local Plan adopted January 2003 which requires that flat roofs should be avoided in most circumstances and roof features such as chimneys, dormers, cupolas and clock towers should be used to add interest, the more recent Paragraph 4.20 of the Council’s Planning Contributions SPD advises that the Design Review Panel’s recommendations will help secure a higher quality of design in new development and so their advice carries great authority in considering the character and appearance of this proposal.”

Within the Conclusion section of the Planning Inspectors Appeal Decision document he explicitly lists that the proposal being consistent with advice given by a design review panel is a Material Consideration in his reasoning for granting planning approval. A copy of the appeal decision can be downloaded by clicking here …

This project provides an excellent example of the benefit of engaging with an independent, impartial, multidisciplinary and expert design review panel, (such as The Design Review Panel; as part of the early design / pre application stage of a built environment project.

Congratulations to the applicant and the design team.

[For another example of the Planning Inspectorate giving the feedback from The Design Review Panel significant weight, please click here ...]


Written by Jonathan Braddick

Design Review Panel Manager

Chartered Architect


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