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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 (www.designreviewpanel.co.uk) 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.

Northumberland Green Belt: Design Review Panel Success

Project Address: - Thornbrough Quarry, Corbridge, Northumberland, NE45 5LX


Following engagement with The Design Review Panel (www.designreviewpanel.co.uk), this exciting project for a NPPF paragraph 80 e (now 84 e) new country house, located in the Green Belt and on the site of a former quarry, was granted planning permission by Northumberland County Council in November 2023.


An artists impression of the rear of a porposed arts and crafts house viewed from a large sweeping lawn.
Thornborough Quarry Para 84e House Rear Elevation - Image Courtesy of 33 Architecture

Congratulations to the design team who produced the proposals, including; 33 Architecture, Colour Landscape Architects and E3 Ecology.


Sitewide Masterplan showing wuarry restoration and placement of a new para 84e house in the countryside- Image provided by Colour Landscape Architects
Thornbrough Quarry, Sitewide Masterplan - Image provided by Colour Landscape Architects

Many thanks to Oliver Currie from 33 architecture for providing the below comments:-


"A new Paragraph 80 Home in the Northumberland green belt is set to become the first Arts and Craft style house to be Net Zero regulated energy – with 140% of energy generated on-site, the building also achieves a 109% improvement in carbon emissions over Part L (2021).

On behalf of the incredible clients of this project, 33 Architecture, Ethical Partnership, Colour UDL and E3 Ecology, have helped to secure planning permission by also showcasing a number of "very special circumstances" and by highlighting a remarkable 186% biodiversity net gain. This goes beyond reducing ecological footprints, setting a new standard for eco-friendly construction.


An artists impression of the rear of a porposed arts and crafts house viewed from the front on approach to the main entrance
Thornborough Quarry Para 84e House Front Elevation - Image Courtesy of 33 Architecture

The home is also set to become a hub for learning and research, providing opportunities for Newcastle University's School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape students. It fosters innovation and environmental responsibility, enriching the academic community. Additionally, a long-term partnership with Newcastle University and Northumbria University will focus on quarry remediation, comparing carbon capture with traditional methods. This collaboration aligns with the project's commitment to sustainable solutions, paving the way for future urban developments.

Securing planning permission for a house in the Green Belt is no small feat, particularly a new build on an open site with no structures to rely upon, and the achievement reflects the exceptional dedication and ingenuity invested in the Paragraph 80 Home project. The demonstration of ‘very special circumstances’ speaks to the project's commitment to protecting and enhancing the environment. It sets the standard for future developments in the countryside, encouraging others to explore innovative sustainable solutions.

The project was presented to the DRP [The Design Review Panel] on a number of occasions to better the proposals, refine the design and overall landscaping resulting in am exceptional design that will enhance its setting and the Tyne Valley country house architecture."


An artists impression of the rear of a proposed arts and crafts house viewed across a large ornamental pond looking up towards the side elevation.
Thornborough Quarry Para 84e House Side Elevation - Image Courtesy of 33 Architecture

As stated above, The Design Review Panel (www.designreviewpanel.co.uk) reviewed the proposals on three occasions (both in-person with a site visit and online), and the Panel welcomed not only the multidiciplibary design team's sincere and committed engagement with the design review panel process but also the very constructive and professional engagement of the local planning authority at Northumberland County Council. The Panel feels that the officer's Delegated Report is extremely thorough and well-considered.


The local authority Officers Delegated Report notes:-


" ... in line with paragraph 133 of the NPPF [now para 138], regard should be given to recommendations made by design review panels when assessing the design of development. It is noted that ‘The Design Review Panel’ (DRP) [www.designreviewpanel.co.uk] have provided three feedback reports for the development, the third of which concludes that the proposed development does meet the policy tests of paragraph 80 of the NPPF."


The officers report goes on to state the following:-


“The third round of comments received from the DRP prior to the submission of the application conclude as follows …


 … In light of the above, and in the context of paragraph 133 (now 138) of the NPPF, officers have given significant weight in this instance to the thorough and extensive design process and the comments of the DRP [The Design Review Panel]. The application is submitted with detailed supporting information, including a Design and Access Statement, Design Document, Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) and ecological assessments. These set out the overall approach to the design of the development as well as the proposals for the enhancement of the site and its immediate setting and provide a reasoned justification for the proposals as submitted.


On this basis, it is officer opinion that the proposed form of development could be capable of being acceptable in principle in the context of Policy HOU 8 of the NLP and paragraph 80 of the NPPF.”


The proposal not only needed to comply with paragraph 80e of the NPPF but was also sited within the Green Belt. As such, it was subject to rigorous policies (Policy STP 7 and 8) that traditionally restrict development to preserve the openness and integrity of the Green Belt. However, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) allows for exceptions under 'very special circumstances.'


Thornborough Quarry - 'Waymaker House' Concept Valley Photogragh - Image with thanks to Colour Landscape Architects
Thornborough Quarry - 'Waymaker House' Concept Valley Photogragh - Image with thanks to Colour Landscape Architects

In the assessment of the proposed development within the Green Belt, the feedback from The Design Review Panel (DRP) played a pivotal role, ultimately contributing to the proposal being deemed acceptable and receiving planning permission from the local authority.


We are delighted that throughout the planning process, The Design Review Panel's impartial and multidisciplinary input was helpful to the local authority and the design team. Initially, the plan included a contemporary design, however, this evolved into a 'waymarker house' concept. This adaptation aimed to create a distinct and visually prominent feature in the northern valley. While this change enhanced the architectural prominence of the development, it also necessitated careful consideration of its impact on the Green Belt.

Thornborough Quarry - Land remediation Site Sections - Image with thanks to Colour Landscape Architects
Thornborough Quarry - Land remediation Site Sections - Image with thanks to Colour Landscape Architects

The Design Review Panel’s feedback and suggestions contributed to a thorough evaluation of how the development would interact with the Green Belt, particularly regarding its visual and spatial effects. Despite the increased visibility of the development, the extremely high standard of architecture, landscape design, and ecological proposals outweighed concerns in this regard. Ultimately, the local authority determined that the proposal's benefits, acknowledged by The Design Review Panel feedback, outweighed the potential harm to the Green Belt. The project was seen to align well with the NPPF's criteria for 'very special circumstances,' leading to the granting of planning permission.


The officers report cocludes:-


"As set out earlier in this report and following collaboration with the DRP [The Design Review Panel], it is considered that the proposal would satisfy the exceptional design requirements of Policy HOU 8 of the NLP and paragraph 80 of the NPPF. Significant weight is also given to this in terms of Policy QOP 1 of the NLP and paragraph 134 of the NPPF in terms of outstanding or innovative designs which promote high levels of sustainability, or help raise the standard of design more generally in an area. The sustainability credentials of the scheme, as well as the enhanced landscaping scheme and quarry restoration are also given significant weight in this context. However, whilst giving considerable weight to the exceptional design and enhanced landscape setting, it is not considered that this in itself would amount to the very special circumstances required to clearly outweigh the harm in this instance.


Furthermore, it is not considered that there is one other single aspect that would result in very special circumstances to clearly outweigh the harm. This includes the quarry restoration scheme and the associated BNG benefits, as well as the learning and research opportunities. However, in combination the positive considerations that have been put forward in favour of the scheme are considered to carry very considerable weight in its favour. On that basis, and in the overall planning balance, it is officer opinion that these clearly outweigh the Green Belt and other harm in this instance."


The application (23/01735/FUL) was registered on the 8th June 2023 and approval was granted on 9th November 2023.




An artists impression of the rear of a proposed arts and crafts house viewed across a large ornamental pond / lake with a child playing the foreground
Thornborough Quarry Para 84e House - Lake View - Image Courtesy of 33 Architecture






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