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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.

Great Sideling - Paragraph 79 (e) House Approved - A Landscape Architects Perspective

Philip Hanson - Chartered Landscape Architect at The Landscape Practice
Philip Hanson - Landscape Architect

Many thanks to Philip Hanson CMLI of The Landscape Practice for providing the below thoughts from Chartered Landscape Architect's perspective on a paragraph 79 (e ) planning approval for 'Great Sideling', located in Mid Devon.


The Council of Europe Landscape Convention was adopted twenty years ago on 20 October 2000. This was the first international treaty to adopt our landscape as a critical resource. It was an important turning point, not only in the introduction of universal policy, but it also generated a heightened and general awareness of the landscape around us and its importance in our everyday lives at all levels, urban or rural, whatever the quality. This has become more meaningful as pressure for development and change has increased. Our understanding and interpretation of the physical and experiential context is essential in directing the changes we impose on it. This was a critical part of the design process for locating a new dwelling deep in the rural Devon countryside of the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Para 79 (e) Springline House Landscape Visual
Para 79 (e) Great Sideling Landscape Visual

We are all familiar with Paragraph 79(e) of the current National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) relating to the development of isolated homes in the countryside. The design has to be not only of exceptional quality’, and truly outstanding or innovative’, but also has to significantly enhance its immediate setting and be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area'. Really understanding the baseline characteristics, the physical and true, emotional character of the context, is the essential starting point in directing design of exceptional quality and achieving a true inevitability of synergy between landscape and architecture. A process which should be applied to all development projects, but sadly is often not understood.

This project investigated the opportunity for a Paragraph 79(e) dwelling on an agricultural field within the clients’ existing property. The field is known as 'Great Sideling', meaning steep, sloping ground adjacent to a road – a perfect description. This development was an opportunity for them to plan for their retirement years whilst remaining in the location they had loved for many years. Liaison with the local planning authority, the Blackdown Hills AONB Team, and Design Review Panel presentation was planned from the outset. Feedback was an essential and invaluable part of the design process.

Para 79 (e) Springline House - Site Photogragh
Para 79 (e) Great Sideling - Site Photograph

With embryonic ideas for a dwelling, a thorough desk and field study analysis of the physical landscape components identified the quantity, quality and combinations of landscape elements which formed the basic characteristics of the site and the local context. Here, the complex underlying geology is a particularly strong and unifying element which has a profound influence over the surrounding topography, vegetation, land use and settlement patterns. This analysis and further research on cultural and historical aspects assisted in recognising the distinct and consistent patterns which form the character and intrinsic quality and value of the landscape context. This provided specific concept and design indicators, but it was also a means of demonstrating a clear path in the design thinking process to the client and the scrutiny of peers in the local planning authority, AONB Team and The Design Review Panel ( Consultation continued throughout the design process from early stages and, through ongoing presentations and discussions, the invaluable feedback fuelled positive design development.

The design sited the house to be visually grouped within wider views of the field close to nearby existing properties on the lower, more visually protected part of the site. The new shapes of the land took inspiration from the remnants of an historic plantation at the western edge of the field. Domestic areas are carefully contained by boundary and level change. Tythe map field boundaries were reinstated and utilised to create flowing compartments of differing management and biodiversity. The most visible central area remains as pasture.

Para 79 (e) Springline House - Sketch Site / Landscape Plan
Para 79 (e) Great Sideling - Sketch Site / Landscape Plan

Planning permission was granted in April 2020 (18/00171/FULL) almost three and a half years from first thoughts and planning to start building is underway. It was a long process on this particular project with a very patient client. However, it was a process to build a house which was commensurate with and appropriately respectful of the quality of the landscape resource.


Within the Planning Committee Report, the Mid Devon District Council local authority planning officer notes the following:-

"It is clear that the third Design Review Panel’s comments have been positively addressed in the application submission to the extent that planning consent can now be granted"

and ...

"On the basis of the advice received from the DRP, officers are satisfied that the proposal meets the criteria contained in the NPPF and that an exception can be made in this case, allowing for the construction of an isolated new open-market dwelling in the open countryside."

Please click here to read a full copy of the Planning Committee Report.

Please click here to read a full copy of the Decision Notice.


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