England needs a networked system of design support, providing local people with access to built environment expertise and advice, according to the Bishop Review, published last week
Jo Watkins CMLI, President of the LI said: ‘‘The reformed planning system for England sets out the importance of good design in the built environment more clearly than ever before. This makes it all the more important to have robust and reliable design support across the country for our landscapes and the developments within them. The Landscape Institute welcomes the Bishop Review as a key statement of this need.’
Commissioned by the Design Council in April 2011, Peter Bishop undertook an extensive consultation, involving more than 450 representations via written submissions and roundtables held across the country. The Review was supported by an expert advisory group of industry leaders and organisations including the RIBA, RTPI, RICS, Landscape Institute, BPF, HBF, Architecture Centre Network and the Prince’s Foundation.
The Bishop Review is an independent report to the Design Council. It examines the legacy of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) in the context of the new planning system and economic and political context, and makes recommendations for a new ecosystem of design support in England.
Peter Bishop said: “The wide and thoughtful responses to the consultation on the review demonstrates that good design should be an essential element in the buildings and places we create. Good design though is about more than just the physical appearance of development. It needs to embrace social functionality, environmental performance and be capable of being delivered in a tough economic climate. If we are to leave a lasting legacy for future generations then all the major bodies and institutions need to come together on a shared agenda to build a national infrastructure where good design can flourish at all levels. In this respect the Design Council Cabe has a key strategic role as a facilitator, as a champion and as a principal advisor to Government.”
David Kester chief executive of the Design Council said: “At a time of great economic and policy change in the built environment this report provides the Design Council and its partners with a snapshot of the big design issues that we all face. Peter has made meaningful recommendations based on the significant amount of consultation he’s undertaken. Broadly we support the direction Peter has outlined. As you might imagine we have come a long way in formulating our own response to these issues, and I look forward to publicising our plans in more detail in the near future.”
Key issues that the Design Council will pursue that have arisen from the Bishop Review include:
- Design Council CABE must empower others to deliver good design. Rather than continuing with a centralised system of design support and Design Review services, the Design Council CABE must work with and through its partners across the country to deliver expert advice to local authorities, communities and developers.
- Design and sustainable development are intrinsically linked. Design is vitally important to economic recovery and community development. It is a key way of reconciling perceived tensions between localism, economic growth and environmental sustainability. There is a need for design to be championed, particularly at this transitional time in the planning reforms, and as part of a national design agenda.
- Communities are the new clients. While there are a number of organisations who offer support to communities, what is required are new models of engagement, clear advice, and a simple point of access to available support.
- Quality well-built homes are critical in delivering economic growth, but they must fit the local community and context. The quantum and quality of available housing is a significant concern. The UK requires more housing but it must be of good quality particularly where the public sector is making an investment either through land or finance. Design Council CABE should work with the HCA, as well as commercial house-builders, to ensure that what is built is of good quality and embraced by neighbourhoods.
- Local planning authorities are pivotal, but need support to deliver reform. The reforms of the planning system will have a significant impact on the way plans are made and developments are taken forward. Local planning authorities will need to ensure that their plans are up to date and that local neighbourhoods are actively involved in place-making. All this is coming at a time when resources within many departments are over-stretched.
- Design Review must be decentralised and made more accessible to local people. The system of providing Design Review needs to be refreshed to be more responsive to developers and relevant to communities. In part this can be accomplished by the delivery of Design Review closer to the development site. London alone lacks a subnational Design Review panel. This should be rectified, with Design Council CABE taking responsibility for delivering Design Review in London. In the absence of core funding for Design Review, it should be paid for through planning fees as it can help bring confidence and certainty to developers and local authorities.