The Local Authority may sometimes suggest that an applicant seeks an independent view on the quality of the architectural and landscape design of their proposals, to assist both the applicant and the Council in the decision-making process.
Particularly sensitive schemes, such as larger development proposals or single dwellings proposed under Paragraph 80 of the National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF July 2021), are likely to benefit from being reviewed by the Suffolk Design Review Panel at pre-application or application stages. These may include schemes proposed for Conservation Areas, within the Suffolk Coasts and Heath AONB, in the settings of Listed Buildings, of great local interest or of significant contention (ranging from single buildings to estate-scale housing layouts). However, any scheme may be brought forward for review, if desired.
The Suffolk Design Review Panel (est. 2012) is an independent body comprised of locally-based experts from across the built environment professions, with the fundamental aim to promote and encourage high standards in the design of the built environment in Suffolk.
The NPPF states at paragraph 133 that:
“Local planning authorities should ensure that they have access to, and make use of, tools and processes for assessing and improving the design of development. These include … design advice and review arrangements …”
Further information on the panel, its terms and conditions, who sits upon and chairs it, and its fees, can be found on its website: Suffolk Design Review Panel.
Following a short presentation on the scheme by the applicant, with the local planning authority present, a discussion is carried out by the Design Review Panel, after which a written report is provided to the applicant and planning authority.
Such written feedback can be very useful in verifying the quality of a design and can assist in improving and refining a scheme. The NPPF states at paragraph 133 that planning authorities should ‘have regard to the outcome from these processes, including any recommendations made by design review panels.’