Using the design enabling service

Design review often saves money and time by identifying and ironing out design issues and thereby speeding up the planning process.

It supports and encourages good design and innovative proposals. It also gives Local Planning Authorities, developers and their design teams confidence that they have had the best possible independent advice on design quality. 

We invite developers, planning agents and designers to submit their development proposals that fall within the following criteria, ideally at pre-application stage, to our Design Enabling Panel (DEP) for an appraisal. Our DEP consists of over 20 independent designers from across Cambridgeshire and London with expertise in architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, town planning, conservation and public art.

Charges per meeting

£600 + VAT (£720)

Referral Criteria

Development proposals referred to the panel will generally meet the following criteria:

Category A 

Development proposals which are significant because of their size or the uses they contain. These include:

  • Medium to large-scaled developments (20-100+ units) outside major growth sites (which will normally be assessed by the Cambridgeshire Quality Panel).
  • Large buildings or groups of buildings such as schools, religious buildings, museums, industrial units, hospitals, shopping and leisure facilities, and office/commercial buildings.
  • Major changes in the public realm affecting village High Streets and important open spaces such as village greens.

Category B

Proposals which are significant because of their location. These include:

  • Proposals which may affect important views to Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas, Scheduled Ancient Monuments and the Cambridge Green Belt, etc.
  • Proposals that are sited in such a way that may give rise to exceptional effect on their locality: A relatively modest proposal can be of strategic importance if it is situated at an important street junction, in a square, in a Conservation Area or in exposed locations.

Category C 

Proposals with an importance greater than their size, use or location would suggest. These include:

  • Proposals which are likely to establish the planning, form or architectural quality for future large scale development of redevelopment;
  • Proposals which are out of the ordinary in their context or setting because of their scale, materials or detailing.
  • Proposals which are particularly relevant to the quality of everyday life and contain design features which, if repeated, would offer substantial benefits for society.

Our DEP will not review schemes that have been presented to other design review panels like the Shape East Design Review Panel and the Cambridgeshire Quality Panel.

Our DEP can appraise schemes that fall outside the referral criteria at the discretion of the Director of Planning and New Communities.
Contact Urban Design Project Coordinator Bonnie Kwok on 01954 713167 or email: for further information.

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