National Conference shows overwhelming support for place review

Yesterday, leading figures from local and national government, property, planning and design came together to discuss how ‘Place Reviews’ can be carried by multi-disciplinary panels to create a better quality built environment. The conference, hosted by the NLA, was supported by Farrells and the Design Network and saw a large turnout eager to discuss a more holistic approach to reviewing existing places and the public realm as well as new buildings coming through the planning process.

The Farrell Review, which was published last year, recommended that Design Review Panels be replaced by Place Review Panels. These Place Review panels would have representation from the core skill sets of Planning, Landscape, Architecture, Conservation and Engineering – to reinforce the holistic approach that is required in order to retrofit our towns and cities to create the best outcomes.

The conference concluded that the focus should be changed and the problem framed in a different way by making ‘place’ the client. Sir Terry used the Marylebone / Euston Road study, which helped shape local authority policies and eventually the new designs for Euston Circus as a case study. Attendees heard from a number of leading figures, including Sir Michael Lyons, author of The Lyons Housing Review, Richard Upton CEO of Cathedral Group and Deborah Lamb, Director at English Heritage. Professor Matthew Carmona outlined the progress that has been made in establishing the Place Alliance, an industry-led body which is taking forward many of the recommendations in the Farrell Review. An offer was made to convene all the different providers of design review services including the Design Network, Design Council CABE and English Heritage Urban Panel.

In support of today’s conference, Brandon Lewis, Minister for Housing and Planning, said:

“Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development and should contribute positively to making places better for people. We encourage local authorities to have local design review arrangements in place to help ensure high standards of design and welcome moves by industry to look at what more can be done to ensure this is as effective as possible.”

Sir Terry Farrell, author of the Farrell Review of Architecture said:

“I am delighted there is now industry-wide support for the concept of Place Review. In a country where 80% of the built environment we will have in the year 2050 already exists, we must set about retrofitting our towns and cities with the public and private sectors working together rather than acting as adversaries. I hope that the positive momentum that has been generated since we published the Farrell Review continues. Planning needs to take a more proactive approach, looking at the bigger picture creatively with the communities participating in this process rather than being ‘consulted’.”