3 March 2016

New design service for Brighton & Hove

A new panel of independent experts is to be set up to help ensure major new developments in Brighton & Hove meet high quality standards.

Brighton & Hove City Council has appointed Design South East (DSE) to provide a Design/PLACE Review* support service aimed at improving the design of new buildings, their surrounding landscapes and public spaces.

This will involve DSE setting up a panel of specialists with different areas of expertise – covering architecture, planning, engineering, landscaping and conservation - to provide impartial advice and feedback on how proposals for development could be improved.

Prospective developers of major schemes (over 10 homes or 1,000 square metres of floor space), in consultation with the council and DSE, will be encouraged to submit their designs to the panel, before applying to the council for planning permission.

The panel will not make decisions on planning applications, but its advice will be taken into account by the council’s planning committee when it is considering applications.

Similar Design/PLACE Review support services already operate in other areas including Oxford, Ashford, and London. DSE already has a network of panels which includes West Sussex, Berkshire and Guildford.

The decision to introduce the service in Brighton & Hove was taken by the city council’s Policy and Resources committee in October last year and follows feedback from local architects and planning agents. The move has been welcomed by the local Planning Professionals  Forum.

The service is due to start from April 11 and operate for an initial period of two years.

Councillor Julie Cattell, chair of the council’s Planning Committee, said:  “This new support service is all about improving the quality and design of new developments in the city.

“For planning applicants, the review process provides an opportunity to save time and money - by getting specialist advice in various areas of expertise at one go, and design issues resolved early. For the council’s planning team, it will help to reduce time spent by staff giving design-related advice and give them more time to concentrate on other work.

“It comes at an important time for the city, with a number of major new projects in the pipeline, including a new conference centre at Black Rock, the extension of Churchill Square and the redevelopment of the King Alfred.”

Chris Lamb, Director, Design South East commented:  “Brighton & Hove has a growing population of great diversity, making for a place of real energy. I’m delighted that Design South East has been appointed to work with the city council to deliver its long term objectives and commitment to design quality in the context of an outstanding historic environment and natural landscape. Drawing on 20 years of design support for local authorities in the region, Design South East looks forward to helping this highly successful historic city effectively accommodate future growth.”

Architect Liam Russell, chairman of the city’s Planning Professionals Forum, said: “The Design/PLACE Review service is going to empower both the local planning authority and agents to work together to bring forward better design and improve on the process.

“With some hugely important changes planned to the city’s built environment via the City Plan, the ability of the local planning authority and agents alike to call upon an accountable body, that brings expertise from across the UK, is a massive step – there can be a real debate about what is good and bad in a scheme.”

* Design/PLACE Review is an integral part of National Planning Policy Framework and the Farrell Review of Architecture and the Built Environment. PLACE refers to the core areas of design - planning, landscape, architecture, conservation and engineering .

Notes to editors:

The panel will meet on a regular basis, members will be appointed by Design South East and members will vary – with different people sitting on the panel at different times.

Developers of major projects will pay to take their designs to the panel, the cost of this has not yet been finalised, and will depend on the size of the development. It will not be mandatory for developers to take their designs to the panel, but it is expected that most will opt to do so.

It is anticipated that getting independent advice early in the planning process will help to reduce developers’ costs in the long run, by helping to avoid costly delays and changes later in the process.

People applying for planning permission for smaller schemes (less than 10 homes of under 1,000 sq m floorspace) will not need to take designs to the panel.

Design South East is the region’s leading source of built environment design support. 

Further information: Brighton & Hove City Council press office

press@brighton-hove.gov.uk  01273 293033