Design Enabling Panel core principles

In conducting the design enabling service, Panel Members should follow the “Ten Principles” as well as the “Seven Nolan Principles of Public Life” set out below. These principles aim to ensure consistently high standards in the management of the Design Enabling Panel and, most importantly, the quality of the advice it offers.

The Ten Fundamental Principles for conducting the Design Enabling Service

All Panel Members should have regard to the following “Ten Principles” when conducting the design enabling service:

1) Independent
The Design Enabling Service should be conducted by people who are separate from the promoter of the development proposals and the decision-maker, and protects against conflicts of interest. 

2) Accountable
The Design Enabling Panel should record and explain its advice and is transparent about potential conflicts of interest (see Appendix 1 Terms of Reference and Constitution for further information in this regard).

3) Expert
The Design Enabling Service should be conducted by suitably trained professionals who are experienced in design and possess the knowledge to provide constructive advice. Design enabling services are most respected when they are carried out by professional peers of the project designers, as their standing and expertise will be acknowledged.  

4) Advisory
The Design Enabling Panel does not make decisions. It acts as a source of impartial advice for decision-makers.  

5) Accessible
The Design Enabling Panel’s advice should be written in a way that can be easily understood by decision-makers.

6) Proportionate
The Design Enabling Service should be used on development proposals that fall within that referral criteria set out Appendix 1 Terms of Reference and Constitution, whose significance warrants the cost of providing design enabling service. Other methods for assessing design quality should be used for less significant schemes or schemes that fall outside the referral criteria.

7) Timely
The Design Enabling Service should ideally take place at pre-application stage as this can save time and cost less to make changes. 

8) Objective
Panel Members should appraise development proposals against the design objectives set out in the NPPF (2012), the Council’s DPD and the District Design Guide (2010), rather than the stylistic tastes of individual Panel Members.

9) Focussed on Outcomes for People
Panel Members should ask how the development proposals can better meet the needs of the people using it, and the public at large who are affected by it.

10) Focussed on Improving Quality
Panel Members should seek to provide constructive advice on ways of improving the quality of architecture, urban design, landscape, highway design and town planning.

The Seven Nolan Principles of Public Life

The design enabling service is set up to act in the public interest. All Panel Members must therefore abide by the Seven Nolan Principles of Public Life:

1) Selflessness
Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
2) Integrity
Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.

3) Objectivity
In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.

4) Accountability
Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

5) Openness
Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reason for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

6) Honesty
Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

7) Leadership
Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.


Please contact Urban Design Project Coordinator Bonnie Kwok on 01954 713167 or email: for further information.

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