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CABE responds to design review pressure

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CABE has responded to a perceived resources shortfall in its design review capacity by encouraging other organisations to set up their own panels.

The design watchdog issued the advice for local authorities after the number of major planning applications around England became too much.

The number of these applications reached an astonishing 19,000 in 2005, increasing pressure massively on the quango.

Back in May, concerns emerged that CABE's design review capacity was becoming desperately stretched.

Adrian Dennis, a senior planner in Southwark, said at the time: 'Big projects will have a major impact on the London townscape and the public so should be looked at very carefully by everyone including CABE.

'I get the impression that there are currently so many major applications that are of interest to CABE, it has to turn down the more routine or mundane type of development,' he added.

CABE's new document, How to do design review, promotes the design review system as a 'tried and tested' method for local authorities to 'evaluate the design quality of schemes'.

The watchdog's head of design review Selina Mason admitted that the review team was facing pressure with coping.

'CABE's national design review panel will continue to comment on the most significant schemes from across England,' she said.

'But the demand for high quality design advice is likely to carry on growing and, realistically, we will never be in a position to review every scheme which could benefit from design advice.

'So we have put together How to do design reviewto provide regional development agencies, local authorities and others with a robust framework for setting up design review panels of their own,' she added.

by Ed Dorrell

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