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Conservation and design

This section contains information on how the planning system takes account of conservation issues, including

Design Panel

A design review panel for Devon is being set up and is expecting to hold its first meeting in October 2013.

Paragraph 62 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires that:
"Local planning authorities should have local design review arrangements in place to provide assessment and support to ensure high standards of design. They should also when appropriate refer major projects for a national design review. In general, early engagement on design produces the greatest benefits. In assessing applications, local planning authorities should have regard to the recommendations from the design review panel."

What Is Design Review?

Design Review is an independent and impartial evaluation process in which a panel of experts on the built environment assess the design of a proposal. The process is designed to improve the quality of buildings and places for the benefit of the public. The review is conducted by expert practitioners with current experience in design and development, a record of good design in their own projects and the skills to appraise schemes objectively. It offers feedback and observations that will lead to the improvement of schemes, but does not redesign them. The process of design review gives decision makers the confidence and information to support innovative, high quality designs that meet the needs of their communities and customers, and to resist poorly designed schemes.

The review process seeks to improve the quality of architecture, urban design, landscape and highway design. It takes place in accordance with the following 10 principles:
  1. Independent: It is conducted by people who are unconnected with the scheme's promoters and decision makers, and it ensures that conflicts of interest do not arise.
  2. Expert: It is carried out by suitably trained people who are experienced in design and know how to criticise constructively. Review is usually most respected where it is carried out by professional peers of the project designers, because their standing and expertise will be acknowledged.
  3. Multidisciplinary: It combines the different perspectives of architects, urban designers, urban and rural planners, landscape architects, engineers and other specialist experts to provide a complete, rounded assessment.
  4. Accountable: The Review Panel and its advice must be clearly seen to work for the benefit of the public. This should be ingrained within the panel's terms of reference.
  5. Transparent: The panel's remit, membership, governance processes and funding should always be in the public domain.
  6. Proportionate: It is used on projects whose significance, either at local or national level, warrants the investment needed to provide the service.
  7. Timely: It takes place as early as possible in the design process, because this can avoid a great deal of wasted time. It also costs less to make changes at an early stage.
  8. Advisory: A design review panel does not make decisions, but it offers impartial advice for the people who do.
  9. Objective: It appraises schemes according to reasoned, objective criteria rather than the stylistic tastes of individual panel members.
  10. Accessible: Its findings and advice are clearly expressed in terms that design teams, decision makers and clients can all understand and make use of.
North Devon Council will discuss the suitability of emerging schemes to be referred to the Design Review Panel for Devon with scheme promoters. This referral is best done at an early stage in the evolution of a development proposal and preferably as part of pre-application discussions and negotiation. More details on the new design review panel including terms of reference and panel members are to be found on the panel's website:

For further information about conservation areas and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), see the planning constraints page or the trees and landscape page.

Contact information

For planning enquiries, contact the Customer Service Centre:

Telephone: 01271 388288
For Typetalk: precede with 18001
Text: 07624 804042
Fax: 01271 388451

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Our office hours are Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Appointment based planning surgeries are held at:
To make an appointment visit one of the offices or phone 01271 388288.

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