The panel assists and encourages developers and their design teams to achieve and deliver high quality design in their development proposals.
It is expected that all major and significant development will be brought to the panel during the planning process, ideally at pre-application stage.
The advice will be an important means of achieving planning policy on high quality design in new developments.
Who they are
The Design Review Panel (DRP) is a group of professional design experts, which meets regularly to review development schemes at either pre-application stage of the planning process.
While the panel does not have decision-making powers, it serves as an advisory body helping to achieve the best built environment. Comments from the panel will be fed into the assessment of pre-application schemes, planning applications and appeals.
Schemes should be brought to the panel as early as possible within the design process in order to ensure a productive and beneficial outcome for all parties. By bringing a development to the panel early, design teams have an appropriate time to respond to panel advice and have a better chance to address design concerns prior to application – thus providing more assurances for the developer and helping to de-risk the planning application.
Following a competitive application process the DRP is now made up of more than 30 experts and chaired by Keith Williams, director of Keith Williams Architects. The Deputy Chair is Urban Designer, Ben Van Bruggen.
Selected from almost 130 applicants, the members were chosen based on their design experience, critical ability, and understanding of development pressures facing the area.
Members consist of professionals including Architects, Landscape Architects, Urban Designers, and Sustainability Specialists.
What the DRP reviews
The panel evaluates borough wide developments, excluding Convoys Wharf, Lewisham Gateway and Surrey Canal Triangle – each of which has its own specific design panel.
The panel reviews planning applications and pre-application designs for new developments and significant alterations to existing buildings. In addition, it provides advice on public realm proposals and other planning documents that impact on the borough's townscape.
How the reviews work
The panel holds monthly meetings, where two to three schemes are reviewed. Prior to a meeting, members visit the proposal sites accompanied by our officers.
At the meetings, development proposals are presented by the developer's design team. Presentation material includes architectural models, presentations and display boards.
After the presentation, panel members ask questions to clarify any issues and discuss the design of the scheme with the design team and developer.
Following the meeting, a report is written by the Chair in collaboration with the other members present. This report is then circulated to the developers and their design team as well as any other stakeholders within 10 working days of the meeting.
If the proposal was reviewed at pre-application stage, the report remains confidential. If the proposal was reviewed at application stage, the report becomes a public document and is kept within the proposal's planning file.