The Richmond Design Review Panel (RDRP) is an independent body comprising of architects, urban designers, landscape architects, engineers, transport planners, heritage experts and other design related professionals with a local interest and recognised expertise in their field.
The panel assesses pre-application schemes within the borough, ideally at an early stage in the design and planning process, and occasionally post-application schemes with a view to raising the architectural quality of proposals.
The establishment of the RDRP in 2018 follows guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which recommends that local planning authorities have processes and frameworks in place for assessing and improving the design of development.
The RDRP adheres to the principles of the London Quality Review Charter published by the Greater London Authority, which also incorporates the widely accepted best practice document Design Review: Principles and Practice (Design Council CABE/Landscape Institute/RTPI/RIBA, 2013).
The applicant’s team including architects and designers will be invited to present their proposed scheme to the RDRP using drawings, models, PowerPoint presentations or other media formats. Following the presentation, panel members will ask questions to the design team to clarify any issues and proceed with discussing the design of the scheme in an open forum.
For first time design review schemes, a site visit is arranged immediately prior to the review. It is expected that the applicant’s team lead on the site visit and arranges the most convenient venue to have the meeting.
Design reviews should be beneficial for both applicant and local planning authority, and both will have the opportunity to share questions and concerns with the Panel.
The types of schemes that the panel will be invited to review will normally comprise large scale developments and town centre schemes. Criteria triggering a design review are:
A multidisciplinary pool of built environment experts serves the RDRP. The panel for each design review will be based on the expertise and specialist skills required for the projects being reviewed.
The RDRP acts in the public interest and adheres to the seven Nolan Principles of Public Life. A conflict of interest check is run prior to any design review meeting.
The Chair will co-ordinate the panel discussion and summarise key points at the end of the review. A formal response will be sent from the Panel to the Council Leader, the Chairman of the Environment, Sustainability, Culture & Sports Committee, the case officer, and the applicant’s team and their design team usually within 10 working days from the date of the meeting.
Panel responses from design reviews will only be published after an application has been submitted for planning permission and will be added to the suite of documents on the Council’s website as part of the submission.
Members of the applicant team that are involved in the development of the proposals and are presenting to the panel are invited to attend the design review alongside case officer and relevant Council officers. Ward councillors are invited to observe. Other persons representing particular organisations (such as Historic England) where they may have an interest in the proposals may be invited at the discretion of the applicant’s team.
It is made clear though to all attendees that everything presented and discussed at the meeting is confidential until or unless a planning application has been submitted.
The RDRP offers three types of reviews according to the stage of the application or at the discretion of the case officer and panel staff according to the needs of the proposal:
This is a formal detailed evaluation of the design quality of the scheme. Impartial, expert advice is given from a range of professional fields, often helping to resolve complex design issues, as well as providing an opportunity to test detailed design options, such as materiality, detailing and elevation treatments. Reviews usually involve four to six panel members (including one Chair).
This applies to schemes that have been seen by the panel for a first time. Follow-up reviews can be either in the form of formal design reviews or desktop review. Desktop reviews involve two to three panel members (including one Chair).
This is an informal, interactive round table discussion to establish design priorities usually early on in the process, ensuring that good design is considered from the start to help maximise the scheme’s potential, or often at the end of the process to resolve some outstanding issues. Workshops usually involve two panel members (including one Chair).
It is envisaged that the same panel should attend a follow-up review in order to keep consistency with previous advice. Where the same panel members are not available, the newly appointed will be made aware of previous comments.
Charges apply for schemes referred to the RDRP at pre-application as well as post-application submission. This fee is to cover the administration cost of servicing the panel, and to reimburse panel members for undertaking each design review.
As of April 2020 fees has been amended to reflect costing of other design review panels across London and to ensure that the Council is able to continue governing and administering the design review processes.
Fees from 1 April 2020:
A cancellation policy has been introduced to safeguard officers and Panel Members time in case reviews get cancelled or postponed by the applicant:
For more information please email RDRP@richmond.gov.uk
Updated: 30 July 2020