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Design Council demands government design strategy

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The Design Council has called on government to introduce a new cross-party strategy to boost public demand for quality in the built environment

Responding to the Farrell Review, the organisation hit out at the lack of a ‘long-term cohesive approach to delivering better quality places in the UK’ and said changes were needed to deliver key NPPF aims.

It proposed launching a new cross-party committee – led by the prime minister – to oversee strategy and ensure design commitment continues when new parliaments are formed.

The Design Council went on to argue government should invest in design review to ensure urban design expertise is ‘accessible to all participants in planning to help ensure that quality is not compromised at any stage of the process.’

It also said government must demonstrate leadership as a client and introduce a new public procurement code of practice which ensures ‘the most fair and open process that appoints the best and most appropriate designers for the job.’

Mandatory urban design training for all council planning committee members, universal access to design review for public projects and compulsory long-term evaluation were also mooted.

Postscript: Terry Farrell delighted with response to Farrell Review consultation

The Farrell Review has had ‘an extremely positive response’ to the online Call for Evidence and workshops held throughout the country. This wide ranging consultation will help Terry Farrell write his National Review of Architecture and the Built Environment established by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey at the beginning of the year.

Launched in June, the online call asked questions relating to the themes of the review and produced a range of ideas from differing viewpoints throughout the UK. More than 200 responses were received from individuals, companies, groups and institutions with many organising questionnaires for members representing over 370,000 people.

Alongside the Call for Evidence, the Review team organised workshops and sessions in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle to hear recommendations from leading industry figures. Workshops were attended by members of Farrell’s expert advisory panel and 192 individuals from built environment professions including education, planning, sustainability, architecture, landscape, urban design and policy making.

Workshops focused on specific themes including design quality and the role of government; the economic benefits of built environment design; cultural heritage and education, outreach & skills. Sessions were also organised around architectural policy, developers, sustainability, and landscape and urban design.
Some of the key themes that emerged were that placemaking, sustainability and holistic thinking should be central to any built environment policy; improving the everyday and making the ordinary better should be a focus; the right policies and the right people are key; greater accessibility in the professional education is needed; good work is being done through place-based learning at primary and secondary schools and with adults and communities through architecture centres; linking up and making the best use of existing bodies and institutions would prevent good work being lost; breaking down silos in government, industry and education would be a great success.

Future sessions include a Government Officials’ round table for representatives of a number of Government departments. Farrell and the review team are also actively linking up with other reviews including the Taylor Review, Construction 2025 and the Housing Standards Review. Meetings have already taken place with other parliamentary and local government organisations including the Shadow Culture Minister, Local Government Association and the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Built Environment.
The full panel will meet again in October to discuss the findings and help shape the report, its dissemination and legacy. Farrell is aiming to submit the report to DCMS at the end of the year and it is expected to be published in early 2014 alongside a multi-media project planned by the Farrell Review team to provide a ‘snapshot’ and capture the spirit of the review.

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