Design Enabling Panel - Reviewing your design

Design Enabling Panel - reviewing your design

About our Design Enabling Panel

A design review can save you time and money by identifying and resolving design issues and speeding up the planning process.

Our Design Enabling Panel encourages design excellence by reviewing customers designs.

Paragraph 129 of the National Planning Policy Framework (2018) (NPPF) requires Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to have design review arrangements in place to support applicants with the design of their development proposals, and to ensure that high standards of design are achieved. It also states that LPAs should have regard to any recommendations made by design review panels.

In 2014, the Design Enabling Panel (DEP) was launched to provide a high-quality design review service to encourage design excellence across Greater Cambridge.

The DEP allows customers to have their development proposals independently assessed by a team of experienced design professionals so that they can make improvements to the design to make it better overall.

The focus for the DEP is enabling. It aims to provide constructive advice to applicants and their design team to help enable high-quality developments in Greater Cambridge.

The DEP has continued to successfully deliver the design objectives of the NPPF, the adopted Local Development Framework Development Plan Documents as well as the specific requirements of our customers. 

Since its launch in 2014, the DEP has successfully reviewed over 70 schemes.

The DEP has received excellent feedback from landowners, developers, architects and planning agents and has helped delivered high quality developments in Greater Cambridge.

Completed projects include:

  • Parcel K1 co-housing development in Orchard Park
  • Bradfield Centre in Cambridge Science Park
  • Maurice Wilkes new office building in St John’s Innovation Park

Reviewing your design

A design review often saves time and money by identifying and resolving design issues and helping to speed up the planning process. 

It also gives LPAs, developers and their design teams confidence that they have had the best possible independent advice on design quality.  

The independent DEP draws on a pool of trained external design experts. The DEP is a way of testing and refining proposed ideas through peer assessment. This provides constructive advice to design teams enabling them to enhance the design quality and promote the growth of sustainable communities.

The Design Enabling Panel Members

The panel is made up of over 30 well qualified design experts, including many RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Award Winners, who have experienced of delivering high profile development proposals in the UK and across the world. All of them have connections and experience of working in the Greater Cambridge area so they have local knowledge and a good understanding of the development pressures faced in this area. 

The DEP Panel Members have experience in the following areas:

  • Architecture
  • Urban Design
  • Landscape Design
  • Historic Environment
  • Sustainability

When to use the design enabling panel?

We encourage development proposals to be brought to the DEP at pre-application stage when the design is still fluid.  

Presenting proposals early on in the design process will give the applicant’s design teams sufficient time to respond to panel advice and address any design concerns prior to the finalisation of proposals. This can provide assurance to the applicant and help reduce risks, delay and costs further down the planning process.  

It is expected that all major and significant development will be brought to the panel. 

It may be beneficial for complex schemes or schemes within a sensitive location, to be presented at an initial concept stage, and then again as the design is more advanced. Therefore, applicants are welcome to use the DEP more than once to ensure that the different aspects of the scheme are covered in the design review process. 

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