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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.

Officer's Paragraph 84e Recommendation to Committee: Weighing The Design Review Panel's Recommendations

Site Address: Stapleford Grange, Brays Lane, Lower Stow Bedon, Attleborough, Norfolk, NR17 1BT

Planning Application Reference: 3PL/2023/1046/F

Local Authority: Breckland Borough Council


Congratulations to Hawkes Architecture (Architects), Phil Allen Design (Landscape Architects) and Axiom Planning (Planning Consultants), as well as the rest of the design team who, following support from The Design Review Panel have achieved a planning approval for a new dwelling in the countryside for a private client under paragraph 84e of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in Norfolk; the planning application was approved by Breckland Borough Council on 18th March 2024 at Planning Committee.

CGI View Towards Proposed Dwelling from Existing Feature Oak
Stapleford Grange - View Towards Proposed Para 84e Dwelling from Existing Feature Oak

Prior to submitting the planning application, the project team engaged the services of The Design Review Panel ( to provide independent confirmation that the design was of exceptional quality, as necessitated by Paragraph 84e of NPPF. Securing The Design Review Panel’s support played an important role in demonstrating to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) that the design tests of para 84e of NPPF were satisfactory.

Stapleford Grange - View Over Decking & Proposed Landscape Enhancements

Whilst Officers held a different opinion on design, they were respectful of NPPF Para 138, which confirms that feedback from design review panels is a material consideration, and duly gave regard to the outcome of the design review panel process.


The Officers Report to Committee states: -


“Also, with regards to the scheme, the comments with regards to the design of the proposals, made by the Design Review Panel, weigh in favour of the scheme.”


Consequently, Officers stated that: -


“It would be difficult to object to the application in design terms…”. 


Having satisfied that the proposal met the required design standards of Paragraph 84e of the NPPF, the only outstanding matter was that of isolation.

Extensive negotiations with the LPA and rebuttals to objections from Axiom Planning's expert team of NPPF Paragraph 84e specialists resulted in the application going to the Planning Committee with one primary reason for refusal – whether the site was isolated. Daniel Gender-Sherry (Director of Axiom Planning) made good use of his three-minute allowance to address the Committee Members and convince them, contrary to the Officer’s recommendation, that the site was isolated and therefore Paragraph 84e of the National Planning Policy Framework was engaged.

A recording of the planning committee session can be seen below: -

 Richard Hawkes Director at Hawkes Architecture said the following: -


“Breckland Council approved our proposals for a paragraph 84e exceptional isolated house and enhanced landscape in rural Norfolk.


The design narrative for this project has developed around a response to the established architectural hierarchy of the buildings which form this isolated rural farmstead, which already has a principal dwelling.


In situations such as this it feels inappropriate for any new paragraph 84 dwelling to seek to dominate and become the new principal dwelling. As we're guided by local & national planning policies, what we should be demonstrating is that our proposals "fit in with the form & layout of the surroundings" (NPPF paragraph 139b) and be "sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area" (paragraph 84e).


What felt more appropriate is that a new dwelling respect the existing hierarchy of buildings; from the principal dwelling to higher quality outbuildings in close proximity to the principal dwelling to the more ad hoc structures which tend to proliferate as a 3rd tier of building structures, generally constructed since the mid-20th Century.


Stapleford Grange - CGI View From Browns Lane (Public Footpath)
Stapleford Grange - CGI View From Browns Lane (Public Footpath)

Our proposals adopt a building form & architectural language which, when viewed from a distance. feels very much at home in this rural landscape. A simple form which may allude to an agricultural barn or one which may have been converted to residential as so many such buildings have in recent years.


Upon arrival to the new paragraph 84 dwelling and upon closer inspection, the exceptional quality of the architecture, the arrangement of massing, the entrance sequence, articulation of building elements and detailing of materials would immediately be evident as special in their quality of execution.


Stapleford Grange - Proposed CGI of Main Site Access to Para 84e Dwelling from Bray's Lane
Stapleford Grange - Proposed CGI of Main Site Access to Para 84e Dwelling from Bray's Lane

Following two independent design reviews, the proposals were fully endorsed by The Design Review Panel [] as having met the stringent tests set within paragraph 84e. The LPA were equally satisfied with the quality of the scheme's design.


Despite their support for the design, the scheme had been recommended refusal with the sole reason being that officers felt that the site was not sufficiently isolated to trigger paragraph 84 of the NPPF. They held this view despite our efforts pointing out that, consistent with, among others, the Braintree and Bramshill Park court of appeal decisions, this site would absolutely 100% qualify as being remote from a settlement (the nearest settlement being 1 mile away). Fortunately, the Planning Committee agreed with us and voted to approve the scheme contrary to officer's recommendation.


As with all of our paragraph 84e projects, the technical performance of the building will be delivered to the very highest passive standards and the building will benefit from HAWKES unparalleled experience designing and building some of the most advanced sustainable low energy homes in the country.


We're looking to progress swiftly with the technical design with a view to starting work on site later in 2024.”







The Design Review Panel ( provides independent, impartial, multidisciplinary and expert design review Panel sessions for applicants, design teams and local authorities, nationally across England.

The Design Review Panel Logo in Colour dispaying website adress
The Design Review Panel -

Feedback from The Design Review Panel is a material consideration in accordance with paragraph 138 on The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

01395 265768



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