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Farrell Review: the 60 recommendations

After a year-long review Terry Farrell has set out his 60 recommendations covering education, planning, heritage and the RIBA and the ARB

Recommendation 1

PLACE institutions and agencies should develop online resources for teachers and professionals to teach architecture and the built environment across a whole range of subjects. These should reflect the 2014 curricula, potentially through the Engaging Places portal, and include a series of e-seminars on school lesson plans and excellent schemes of work. They can be introduced by the Department for Education at different points in a teacher’s career including in-service training days as well as training offered by external agencies.

Recommendation 2

These institutions and agencies could create a task force within the framework of the government’s Cultural Education Plan which would be eligible for Lottery funding and could link to the construction Strategy 2025 implementation plan. This task force should co-ordinate the activities of all those involved to ensure the online resources are broad, balanced and integrated.

Recommendation 3

Built environment professionals could facilitate and enable young citizens (including Young Mayors, local youth councils and the UK Youth Parliament) to hold PLACE Reviews of their local environment or school building.

Recommendation 4

PLACE institutions could establish a National Schools Architecture Competition for secondary-school students, in collaboration with the Department for Education, to showcase their creative and problem-solving skills, with awards presented by leading architects. This could be built into or connected to the Eco Schools Programme.

Recommendation 5

PLACE institutions should make incentives like accreditation and Continuing Professional Development credits (CPD) available for professionals volunteering and mentoring in schools. The RIBA should encourage architects and students to work on education programmes by promoting the fact that CPD credits are already available.

Recommendation 6

Each local authority could nominate a built environment professional from the private sector and an elected member to champion local design quality. “Civic Champions” actively engaging with neighbourhood forums could help shape neighbourhood plans and improve design quality. Professionals volunteering time for public outreach and skilling up of decision makers should take advantage of formal accreditation offered by their professional institutions.

Recommendation 7

The Local Government Association (LGA) and the Design Network could create a template for partnership agreements between built environment practices and neighbourhoods, villages and towns of an appropriate size and location to champion the civic through education and outreach. Practices could offer support through local schools, urban rooms and architecture and built environment centres.

Recommendation 8

All Core Cities and Key Cities could introduce Open House Weekends to engage with the public about their built environment and make as many otherwise inaccessible buildings as possible open to the public.

Recommendation 9

Arts Council England and the Crafts Council could research and reinforce the role of artists and the arts in contributing to the planning, design and animation of our public realm and architecture. The arts and artists are well placed to creatively engage individuals and communities and give voice to their sense of place, their concerns, and their aspirations for the areas they live, work and play in.

Recommendation 10

Architecture and built environment centres could explore PLACE Review franchises as social enterprises to act as the profit-making arm of a charitable body. The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) could help to identify and secure seed funding to help them create sustainable business plans without the need to commit to funding in the medium or long term.

Recommendation 11

PLACE institutions and built environment agencies, the Design Network and the LGA could research the feasibility and viability of urban rooms (or “Place Spaces”) and establish pilots in different-sized towns and cities where there are no architecture and built environment centres. They would need a facilitator, supported by volunteers, and some costs might be offset against planning receipts like Section 106 or Community Infrastructure Levies.

Recommendation 12

All individuals involved in making decisions about the built environment 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. Local planning authorities throughout the country should formalise the role of architecture and built environment centres and PLACE Review Panels in skilling up decision makers, including planning committee members and traffic engineers. This would follow the successful model of Urban Design London in skilling up planning committee members from London Councils. Local schools of architecture could act as co-ordinating agencies, working with local authorities, and regional events supported by PLACE institutions would spread the training more widely.

Recommendation 13

The RIBA should endorse the Vision of the UK Architectural Education Review Group (Pathways and Gateways report). By introducing alternative routes to registration like apprenticeships, becoming an architect would be less expensive and more achievable for the majority of students.

Recommendation 14

Architecture schools should be better integrated with construction industry education and training to make stronger connections between architects as service providers and the manufacturing and construction industries. This could be achieved by agreed periods of exchange between students on architecture and construction courses.

Recommendation 15

Schools of architecture should establish the undergraduate degree as one that opens up many career paths. Project-based learning and the ability to make both artistic and scientific decisions will be well received by employers at all levels and in all industries.

Recommendation 16

Built environment courses should be linked with a common “foundation” course, and classes across disciplines should be introduced.

Recommendation 17

The upcoming DCLG review of the Architects Registration Board is to be welcomed. The review should consider the implications of removing protection of title and the value of statutory protection for architects and consumers, and we would encourage as many people as possible to feed into this process. The review will be launched shortly as part of the Cabinet Office process for continued review of all remaining “arm’s length bodies”.

Recommendation 18

For as long as protection of title is retained, the Architects Act should be amended to make the RIBA the Registration Body with appropriate supervisory powers to ensure protection of the interests of consumers and non-member architects and to act as the Competent Authority under EU rules.

Recommendation 19

The PLACE Leadership Council (PLC) should work with government and representatives across the industry to bring about a revolution in support of proactive planning in this country. For the sustainability of our villages, towns and cities we have to reduce our reliance on reactive planning which is characterised by the current system of development control (or development management as it is now called).

Recommendation 20

Local planning authorities could set out a plan for attracting and retaining the best individuals for planning departments. This could include the use of planning fees to recruit more design-literate planners for proactive placemaking teams whose skill sets could be shared by neighbouring authorities.

Recommendation 21

Local planning authorities should have interactive online forums for projects over a certain size, giving the public better access to planning debates about the future of their neighbourhoods.

Recommendation 22

Design Review Panels should become PLACE Review Panels (Planning, Landscape, Architecture, Conservation and Engineering) and include professionals from each of these fields. The “Design Review: Principles and Practice” guidance produced by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Cabe at the Design Council, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Landscape Institute (LI) makes the case for panels to be cross-professional and underlines the importance of best practice. This guidance should be adopted by all PLACE Review Panels used by local planning authorities. At the same time, they should become less like a crit at architecture school with peers passing judgement, and more enabling and collaborative.

Recommendation 23

All publicly funded bodies that procure built environment design should have access to independent PLACE Review Panels, and their results should be published online. Panels should conform to the Design Review Principles and Practice guidance produced by Cabe at the Design Council, the RIBA, the RTPI and the LI.

Recommendation 24

There should be PLACE Reviews of new developments in the public sector that are not subject to normal planning, such as national infrastructure applications subject to the Planning Act 2008 and other significant rail, aviation and road improvements.

Recommendation 25

There should be PLACE Reviews of existing places such as high streets, hospitals and housing estates.

Recommendation 26

Local planning authorities should follow examples of best practice, where wider contextual plans and appropriate funding for landscape and public art are required from developers.

Recommendation 27

There should be major reviews of highway regulations and specifications and the design education of highway professionals. All highway schemes could be subject to a credible system of PLACE review and local authorities should take a lead on implementing these.

Recommendation 28

All government reviews and decision-making panels for major infrastructure proposals should have planning and design professionals represented.

Recommendation 29

Department for Transport funds for built environment projects could be conditional on those bidding producing a masterplan, instigating early PLACE Review and agreeing the three-dimensional “design envelope” for the built environment – particularly for the public realm affected by new or changed infrastructure.

Recommendation 30

PLACE institutions could publish an end-of-year report on publicly funded built environment projects, highlighting successes and failures. This report could be combined with the Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Awards, providing in-depth research through case studies in order to disseminate best practice. An award for design quality could be voted for by the public in an online poll.

Recommendation 31

Government should review public building procurement policy to clarify the regulations of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) as well as giving sufficient prominence to design criteria. Industry should produce best-practice guidance to reduce the reliance on frameworks and to ensure that design expertise is embedded in the process and that competitions are held for significant projects.

Recommendation 32

The trade media could publish a list of the UK’s most influential built environment professionals along with commitments from each of them to improving everyday places, through education and outreach. These commitments could be reviewed annually, with professionals having an ongoing dialogue with the public about the big issues through social media.

Recommendation 33

A panel of high-profile media figures and broadcasters could work with the PLACE institutions and built environment professionals to explore ways of popularising and communicating good design, so that it becomes an assumed but inspiring part of our everyday lives.

Recommendation 34

English Heritage should review and 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. PLACE Review Panels within each local authority could help identify what is important locally.

Recommendation 35

An English Heritage advisory arm should be represented on all PLACE Review Panels where heritage is involved, and PLACE Review Panellists should be involved in English Heritage consultation. After each review, English Heritage and PLACE Review Panels should provide a single co-ordinated response to local planning authorities within an agreed timeframe.

Recommendation 36

PLACE Review Panels should offer strategic advice to local authorities on Conservation Areas. English Heritage should consult with PLACE Review Panels when advising on the settings of listed buildings as part of the statutory planning process.

Recommendation 37

Local government could introduce policies and incentives for the adaptability and durability of buildings which would reduce carbon emissions and improve the quality of our future heritage. There should be incentives for minimum lifespans of 60 years (unless there are clear reasons for not doing so), which particularly relates to housing.

Recommendation 38

Local government could introduce policies whereby planning applications over a certain size require an analysis of operational and embedded carbon over a building’s lifetime, and building regulations should be updated accordingly.

Recommendation 39

Government should reduce VAT rates on renovation and repair to five per cent for private dwellings (excluding materials). This would incentivise maintaining and repairing well-designed buildings rather than the current situation which encourages demolition and new build (currently zero-rated VAT).

Recommendation 40

Architecture schools should include refurbishment and low-carbon retrofitting of old buildings in their curriculum and project work and conservation and heritage issues in course content.

Recommendation 41

The Department for International Development (DFID) could focus its support on the effects of urbanisation and the skill sets UK professionals have to solve problems like climate change and to develop water, waste, energy and transport infrastructure. We should be cultural leaders on the effects of global urbanisation, helping local governments and communities to help themselves.

Recommendation 42

PLACE institutions and built environment agencies should promote their successful methods to overseas counterparts who could benefit from their expertise and experience. Government should take a positive lead in promoting their work through diplomatic institutions, embassies and consulates.

Recommendation 43

Ministers and government officials should provide official endorsement to built environment professionals working on projects and competitions overseas. Often very high-level relationships are brokered with political and business leaders around the world, and our government must recognise the “soft power” this brings.

Recommendation 44

The Treasury should recognise building design as closely connected to manufacturing, like product design, and acknowledge its true value for exports. An updated survey of the value of exports by the Construction Industry Council would help reinforce this.

Recommendation 45

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. It could organise a “Global Built Environment Forum” with representatives from the PLACE institutions and built environment agencies to jointly identify markets, sectors and themes.

Recommendation 46

Government, professional and cultural institutions and agencies should join forces to create an International Forum to open the London Festival of Architecture and reinforce its status as the global capital of built environment design. This should be led by the sector and supported by Ministers and the Mayor to help showcase this country’s built environment professions to an international audience. Other UK cities could replicate the festival at the same time and benefit from the global attention this would bring.

Recommendation 48

PLACE institutions and built environment agencies could open up more heritage assets to the public, and government should help identify sources of funding. Local authorities, tourism, heritage and conservation sectors should proactively plan for increasing visitor numbers from all over the world, which will affect transport, public realm and communications.

Recommendation 49

PLACE institutions could carry out research benchmarking UK practices against their international competitors – in particular business methodologies, standards and fee levels – to help UK practices remain competitive in a global marketplace.

Recommendation 50

The RICS, the Construction Industry Council and PLACE institutions should work together to define a universally adopted set of definitions and criteria for assessing property values to include measurable space standards and design quality. The RICS is already leading some international work in this area and the institutions should join forces to take this forward in the UK.

Recommendation 51

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. This could be achieved by amending the Social Value (Public Services) Act to incorporate public works and the disposal of public-sector land.

Recommendation 52

Government could explore policies to incentivise private-sector contributions to public-realm and infrastructure improvements and address the perceived “market failure” whereby landowners who benefit financially from improvements are not always the ones to pay for them. Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are a good model to follow.

Recommendation 53

Architecture schools should include development economics and business planning in course content and the RIBA should help facilitate this.

Recommendation 54

Business schools could include built environment design in course content to ensure that future clients and decision makers understand the value of good design.

Recommendation 55

Government should establish a PLACE Leadership Council, with ministerial representation from DCMS and DCLG, Chief PLACE Advisers and equal public- and private-sector representation.

Recommendation 56

The PLACE Leadership Council should produce a strategy and action plan for improving design quality within the everyday built environment in the first six months. This should include proposals to create a more proactive planning system and new place-based policies.

Recommendation 57

Government should appoint a Chief Architect reporting to DCMS and DCLG at the highest level. This role should be similar to the Chief Planner and Chief Construction Adviser, connecting up government departments and maintaining high standards and consistency of approach.

Recommendation 58

PLACE institutions and think tanks should undertake research on the value of independent, place-based leadership, such as mayors, to the public. In the UK where we have them, and in other countries, city leaders are proven to be the most successful drivers of sustainable and strategic urban planning.

Recommendation 58

PLACE institutions and think tanks should undertake research on the value of independent, place-based leadership, such as mayors, to the public. In the UK where we have them, and in other countries, city leaders are proven to be the most successful drivers of sustainable and strategic urban planning.

Recommendation 59

All government departments and government-funded bodies should sign up to an agreed set of principles and produce a joined-up design policy statement. This statement should set out how they intend to co-ordinate the design quality of their respective built environment ambitions, activities and responsibilities.

Recommendation 60

Design policies should be consistent on cross-cutting issues such as procurement (of services and products), accessibility, sustainability, information and communications technology, maintenance and stewardship and the public realm.

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