To help promote the new National Design Guide, Design Network partners Design Midlands and Creating Excellence are running a series of free webinars providing an overview of the National Design Guide.  These will include best practice demonstrations and reflection on the post-covid19 world.

The webinars will be interactive, with the Panel using questions and comments from the audience to help shape the discussion. 


Developed primarily for Councillors and practitioners in the public and private sectors, the webinars are run by panellists with extensive careers in both public and private practice who will be sharing their experience and perspectives.

These webinars are part of a programme being delivered across England by the Design Network, supported by MHCLG.

During 2019 the Design Network organised a series of roundtable conversations between the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and councillors and planning officers across the country. MHCLG representatives attended to listen and learn about the day to day barriers local authorities were finding when looking to deliver well designed, high quality homes.

Opun and MADE (now Design:Midlands) led on this programme in the Midlands – and held the roundtable discussion with representatives from a range of local authorities and their Elected Members. The feedback included issues such as:
• the 5 year housing land supply was skewing priorities away from design quality in meeting numerical targets
• permitted development rights regime creates poor quality homes and places
• viability was used as a measure to reduce post-permission quality standards
• a disconnect between highways design practice and planning design standards

The report offers recommendations and some potential solutions which are now reflected in the National Design Guide – in particular, the Gov.uk guide called Design: process and tools which provides clear advice to local authorities and their Elected Members on the tools, actions and techniques that can support better design and place making.


To discuss this report further and for advice on any of the new national guidelines contact Design:Midlands at admin@designmidlands.org

Two well-established design support charities have merged to form Design:Midlands which launches officially on 26 September 2019.  Design:Midlands offers design review services, planning support and design training across the East and West Midlands.  The merger brings together two charities, Opun and MADE who served the East and West Midlands regions respectively for many years. 

Design:Midlands Chief Executive Julie Tanner said: “We are delighted to have completed the merger of our two organisations.  Opun and MADE have had an enormous impact in their individual areas but we are excited to bring both together under the Design:Midlands umbrella in the form of a new charity bringing together the best specialist design expertise in the Midlands.”

Chair of Design:Midlands Gary Hunt, said: ‘The government has put a renewed emphasis on design and place making. Our role in providing independent scrutiny will help to navigate the best outcomes not only in recognising the climate emergency we now find ourselves in, but also in ensuring we leave a proper legacy for our Midlands communities.

Councils and developers across the West and East Midlands are encouraged to get in touch and engage with this new design supportcharity, and make use of the services it offers.’

Design:Midlands offers a bespoke range of services including design review, Building for Life site assessments, master planning, neighbourhood planning and design code support to help meet the needs of developers, design teams, local authorities and local communities.   The organisation also runs tailored training sessions on topics such as urban design, highways design, character appraisal, energy, health, landscape and green infrastructure.  Design:Midlands panels bring together leading experts in architecture, regeneration, viability, strategic design frameworks, transport, urban design, ecology, environmental planning and landscape architecture. 

We have developed course content and delivered training events to town planners and elected members from local authorities.

Throughout 2018 and 2019 our planning training has focused on using the “Councillor’s Companion for design in Planning” and “The Design Companion for Planning and Placemaking”, to provide a high quality design training programme delivered across the East Midlands, in conjunction with The Ministry of Housing and Local Communities (MHCLG) and partner Local Authorities including: Rutland, South Kesteven, Erewash and Northampton.

Previous training events have explored both policies and processes aimed at promoting excellence in design quality and place making. In February 2019 in conjunction with East Midlands Councils, the Design Network and the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) we developed and delivered an event focused on best practice in embedding good design in planning policy and decision making.  Afternoon workshops examined: approaches to ensuring that design is addressed throughout the planning process; the use of design tools and techniques; and the knowledge and skills needed to negotiate over elements of design.

Recently we have also designed and run a series of masterclasses to provide a greater understanding of urban design principles through: the “Manual for Streets” and “Manual for Streets 2” application; SuDs and the importance, benefits and practicalities in achieving robust schemes; exploring how to ‘unpick’ the tricky topic of ‘character’; and identifying how ‘Quality’ green infrastructure can make tangible differences.

...because everyone deserves better designed places
South Annex, Pera Business Park, Nottingham Road, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire LE13 0PB
Registered Charity: 1143920 | Company Number: 04456338 | Copyright: Design Midlands Ltd 2019
Created by Nicky Stephen Marketing
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