National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) paragraph 56 states: “The Government attaches great importance to the design of the built environment. Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, is indivisible from good planning, and should contribute positively to making places better for people”. The NPPF recognises in paragraph 62 the value of design review in ensuring high standards and calls for local planning authorities to make arrangements for the assessment and support of projects.
OPUN are the preferred Design Review Panel in the East Midlands, having been supported by DCLG grant for the last two years, and are affiliated with Cabe at The Design Council to undertake design review locally. OPUN have adapted their design support service to assist delivery and have seen a big increase in the number of Design Reviews undertaken in the region from a total of 13 in 2011/12 to 38 at mid-year in 2012/13. The majority of schemes have been housing related, but approximately a third related to commercial, retail and civic schemes.
OPUN has also been the lead local architecture centre nationally on the refresh of Building for Life. Building for Life12 (BfL12) is aimed at a more collaborative engaged approach that encourages developers to discuss their schemes at the earliest opportunity with their local authority. OPUN’s role will be useful to support capacity on BfL12, and as a third party arbiter if needed in agreeing the scoring outcome.
OPUN is confident that the design-led method can secure better outcomes in planning delivery. Using a collaborative approach with developers, design teams and the local authority, OPUN’s design review has achieved speedier outcomes. This has recently been demonstrated in OPUN’s support of the Manor Kingsway HCA sponsored housing scheme in Derby bringing it successfully through a BfL12 assessment and where Derby City Council and the developer Kier Partnerships have suggested a six month saving in progressing the scheme through planning.
OPUN's third party role has also assisted the revision of schemes in support of the local authority. OPUN believe that all developments are unique and the Panel will meet at times that suit the applicant and local authority, with the necessary skills required and where confidentiality is strictly adhered. A site visit is always undertaken with all parties involved. Panel letters are produced within 10 working days of the Design Review. Since charging has been introduced developers have met all fees.
The EMC/OPUN Design Support Service is designed to ensure that a local authority’s own schemes also have access to design support but at a more affordable rate. The 2013/14 package will continue to provide independent design advice throughout the year, will be bespoke to meet an individual authority’s needs but could provide up to two discounted design review panel sessions, affordable officer and member training solutions, discounted building for life 12 support, access to advice on art and the public realm, design policy advice and community enabling capacity.
Four local authorities participated in the first year of the service in 2012/13: Ashfield District Council, Derby City Council, East Lindsey District Council and Leicester City Council. The service has proved to be very successful for these authorities, achieving the following outputs up to the end of September 2012:
- 6 discounted Design Review sessions
- 4 training events for 120 participants including Building for Life12
- 1 Student Public Realm Design Competition in association with Nottingham Trent University
- 3 days of public art support
- 1 facilitated Building for Life assessment
- 2 design policy reviews on Local Plans
The service cost for 2013/14 will be £3,600.00. Following a lot of feedback in 2012/13 the service will also include a Good Design Charter to be agreed in partnership with subscribing authorities. This is a low cost means of showing a local authority commitment towards good place making and design quality uplift aligned within the development management service. The East Midlands Good Design Charter available at http://www.opun.org.uk/east-midlands-good-design-charter/ sets out the parameters by which OPUN Design Support (principally but not exclusively Design Review and Building for Life12 support) can be signposted from a local authority’s development management service. The Good Design Charter is also available independently of the main service subscription at a payment of £150.00 to cover administration costs.
An expression of interest pro-forma can be downloaded from the link below. This offer is only open to councils that are members of EMC. Governance and administration will be provided by EMC who also sit on OPUN’s wider Reference Group OPUN:connect: http://www.OPUN.org.uk/about-us/our-partners/.
To discuss any aspects of this offer, please contact either Julie Tanner at OPUN on 07970 514480 Julie@opun.org.uk, or Andrew Pritchard at EMC on 01664 502641 email@example.com
2013-14 Design Support Service Expression of Interest pro-forma