Planning Inspectorate Gives Significant Weight to Feedback from The Design Review Panel ...

We are delighted to report that the Planning Inspectorate has given significant weight to feedback given by The Design Review Panel, for a residential proposal (located within the greenbelt & a conservation area) in Bath and North East Somerset (BANES).

Designscape Architects have secured planning permission at a planning appeal for the demolition of an existing dwelling, associated garage and greenhouse & its replacement with a new dwelling and garage, associated landscape and drainage works - (Appeal Ref: APP/Y3615/W/18/3195333).

The Design Review Panel ( was asked by the applicant to provide independent, impartial and multidisciplinary guidance and feedback to design team and local authority during the pre-application design stage, this included a site visit.

Having twice reviewed the scheme, ultimately The Design Review Panel were very supportive, of what they considered to be a high-quality design. It is excellent to see that the Planning Inspectorate has agreed with the view of The Design Review Panel and given significant weight to feedback of the Panel.

The issues identified and considered by the Planning Inspector were:-

  1. whether the proposal would be inappropriate development in the Green Belt having regard to the National Planning Policy Framework and any relevant development plan policies;

  2. the effect on the openness of the Green Belt;

  3. the effect on the character and appearance of the conservation area;

  4. whether the harm by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, would be clearly outweighed by other considerations so as to amount to the very special circumstances required to justify the proposal.

Within the Planning Inspectors decision document, the inspector specifically gives significant weight to The Design Review Panel, and states: -

“A design review panel (DRP) has indicated that the building is of a higher architectural quality than that which it would replace. The panel also found enhancements to landscape design. It found the proposal to deliver a holistic response between the building, landscape and river and this is an endorsement of its response to the setting. I give significant weight to the DRP’s [The Design Review Panel] support for the scheme which concludes that the proposal would deliver demonstrable enhancements when compared to the existing building, having a reduced impact overall on the landscape.”

The Inspectors report goes on to concur with the Design Review Panels guidance and feedback given during the pre-application design stage, stating: -

“The proposal would replace an existing dwelling of fairly utilitarian design, finished in white render that is highly visible and somewhat incongruous with the prevailing character of the area. By contrast the new dwelling would be finished with recessive materials that were respecting of the immediate context. With regard to the DRP [The Design Review Panel] comments I find that, whilst larger than the existing dwelling, it would be a positive addition and a significant improvement over the appearance of the existing dwelling”

Regarding the whether the proposals would be inappropriate development on the Green Belt: the inspector felt that the significant weight given to The Design review Panel feedback, (that the proposals would enhance the character and appearance of the area), would outweigh any concerns. The inspectors appeal decision states: -

“I have found harm to the Green Belt by way of inappropriateness and also to openness. Weighed against this, I attach significant weight to the benefits arising to the character and appearance of the area from the provision of a high-quality dwelling that has a better relationship with the site and is a better architectural response than the existing dwelling.”

This appeal decision is an excellent example of the benefit of engaging with an independent, impartial, multidisciplinary and expert Design Review Panel as part of the early design/pre-application stage of a built environment project. A well-deserved result for the applicant and their design team who thoroughly and genuinely engaged in the design review process from the outset.

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

Christopher Mackenzie, Chartered Architect and Director at Designscape Architects in Bath has said: -

“ We are firm believers in the benefits of Design Review as a means of helping to raise design quality standards generally, by helping designers and their clients as a “critical friend” to fulfil the opportunities of a site or project.

In this case the support of The Design Panel [] has been a critical factor in winning a Planning Consent. It is unfortunate that the Local Authority, despite attending two design review panel meetings, were so set in their views and did not change their position as a result of the advice they were given. The Appeal Inspector, however, clearly did understand and appreciate the Panel’s advice, and that advice was clearly a key factor in the Inspector allowing our appeal. We hope that Local Authorities will in future be more open to the benefits that can be gained by independent and expert design advice. A more open-minded approach from Local Planning Authorities would not only raise the standard of design generally but would save the Local Authority as well as Clients a lot of time and money.”

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Designscape Architects

Bath Brewery,

Toll Bridge Road,

Bath BA1 7DE

t 01225 858500


Blog written by Jonathan Braddick

Design Review Panel Manager

Chartered Architect


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