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Farrell Review: in detail

Wish list for government includes new chief architect, ‘urban rooms’ in every city, a new ‘Place Leadership Council’, a shake-up of architectural education and a revolutionary shift to ‘proactive’ planning

More details have emerged of the 60 key points set out in Terry Farrell’s independent review on the future of architecture and planning which was revealed today after 12 months of consultation.

The recommendations in the report, which was commissioned last year by architecture minister Ed Vaizey, have been split into five main categories: education, outreach and skills; design quality; cultural heritage; economic benefits; and built environment policy.

Education, Outreach and Skills

  • Architecture and the built environment should be taught as early as possible in school education and through many different subjects.
  • Alternative routes into a career in architecture should be made available, such as apprenticeships, to make it accessible to all.
  • Government should formally consider the value of statutory protection of title for architects. In the UK, anyone can provide architectural services as long as they do not call themselves an architect. The protection of title while there is no protection of the function of architectural design is misguided.
  • Planning committee members and highway engineers should receive basic training in placemaking and design literacy and it should be given the same status as legal and financial training for elected Councillors.
  • Each local authority should nominate ‘Civic Champions’ - a built environment professional from the private sector and an elected member to champion local design quality and engage with neighbourhood forums.
  • Built environment practices should enter into partnerships with local authorities to ‘champion the civic’ through education and outreach.
  • An urban room in every town and city should be created to understand the past, present and future of that place.

    Conclusion of Farrell Review - Urban Room

Design Quality

  • Local planning authorities should use planning fees to recruit more design-literate planners for placemaking teams and attract and retain the best individuals for planning departments.
  • Design Review Panels should become PLACE Review Panels using the acronym to ensure all the key disciplines are represented (Planning, Landscape, Architecture, Conservation and Engineering).
  • Public-sector developments that are not subject to normal planning, such as national infrastructure projects, should be subject to PLACE Reviews.
  • Existing everyday places should be reviewed like high streets, mega-hospitals and housing estates.
  • Public figures and broadcasters should do more to popularise and communicate good design, so that it becomes an assumed part of our everyday lives.

Cultural Heritage

  • English Heritage and PLACE Review Panels should provide a single co-ordinated response to statutory planning consultations as it’s not ‘either/or’ any more
  • English Heritage should assess the value of heritage assets in a more geographically, socially and historically equitable way. The process of listing buildings should be more democratic and transparent, particularly for listings of local significance.
  • Government should reduce VAT rates on renovation and repair to 5 per cent and incentivise retrofitting buildings rather than demolishing them and building new
  • Local Government should see future heritage in resource terms and introduce policies and incentives for the adaptability and durability of new buildings, including minimum lifespans of sixty years.

Economic Benefits

  • We should celebrate the success of built environment design in this country with an International Festival of Architecture in London to be held annually
  • The Treasury should recognise building design as closely connected to manufacturing and acknowledge its true value for exports. Ministers and government officials should provide official endorsement to built environment professionals working on projects and competitions overseas.
  • UKTI should represent the built environment professions as one industry to meet the global challenges of sustainable urbanisation rather than separating them into creative industries and construction.
  • UKTI should establish a “Global Built Environment Forum” with representatives from the PLACE institutions and built environment agencies to jointly identify markets, sectors and themes. These institutions should promote their successful methods overseas.
  • The Treasury Green Book should be updated to mandate that design quality and sustainability considerations are taken into account when measuring the value of public spending.
  • The RICS, the Construction Industry Council and PLACE institutions should work together to define a new method for valuing property which includes measurable space standards and design quality.

Conclusion of Farrell Review - annual Festival of Architecture in London

Built Environment Policy

  • Government should establish a PLACE Leadership Council, with Ministerial representation from DCMS and DCLG and public- and private-sector representation to provide a strategy for improving design quality within the everyday built environment and a culture change in favour of proactive planning.
  • Government should appoint a Chief Architect to sit alongside the Chief Planner and Chief Construction Adviser on the PLACE Leadership Council.
  • All government departments and government-funded bodies should sign up to an agreed set of principles and produce a joined-up design policy statement which is consistent on issues like procurement, accessibility and sustainability.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Geoff Haslam

    Ed Vasey's interest in design is laudable. Let's hope he understands that good design adds capital value in the long run.
    Shame that there is no implicit support for the CABE Design Review process, which is working well in some quarters and resonates with the spirit of this review

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