Design Midlands Services

...because everyone deserves better designed places
Design Review

Design review is an independent and proven method in evaluating new development and in achieving high quality design in the built environment.  Design review is undertaken by an independent, impartial and multi-disciplinary panel who provide constructive and expert advice at the pre-application stage of a scheme. 

Design Review is referred to in the National Planning Policy Framework. Paragraph 62 of the NPPF states: Local planning authorities should ensure that they have access to, and make appropriate use of, tools and processes for assessing and improving the design of development. These include workshops to engage the local community, design advice and review arrangements, and assessment frameworks such as Building for Life. These are of most benefit if used as early as possible in the evolution of schemes, and are particularly important for significant projects such as large scale housing and mixed use developments. In assessing applications, local planning authorities should have regard to the outcome from these processes, including any recommendations made by design review panels.

As the Midlands Design Review Panel, we are best placed to provide the above service to local planning authorities in the Midlands.

Read MoreDesign Review scheme submission form
Local Design Review Panels

Design Midlands manages the Local Design Review Panels in North East Derbyshire and Newcastle Under Lyme, working with the Local Planning Authorities and developer communities to ensure high quality, sustainable design that embraces the characteristics of these places. Our dedicated Local Panel will bring independent expertise and support to ensuring the best outcomes for these areas.

Read MoreDesign Review scheme submission form
Building for a Healthy Life

Building for Life 12 has been relaunched as Building for a Healthy Life (BHL) – updating BFL12, this joint initiative with the NHS, Homes England and the Home Builders Federation is a Design Code to improve the design of new and growing neighbourhoods. 

Design:Midlands, as part of the Design Network, provides BHL training, assessment and facilitation. The Design Review Panel has a track record of supporting schemes to achieve better designed, healthy and sustainable places.

Design: Midlands also advocates, Streets for a Healthy Life, a companion document to BHL prepared by Homes England. 

Shaping Streets Design Review

The NPPF para. 104e states that the patterns of movement, streets, parking and other considerations are integral to the design of schemes, and contribute to making high quality places. The complexity of managing traffic whilst promoting walking and cycling for better health and wellbeing requires an integrated approach across public and private bodies. Communities are interested in how existing and new street design can be enhanced to create better public places.

Shaping Streets Design Review is a design tool to support those designing and implementing streets in delivering excellent places, taking into account advice from CIHT.  Shaping Streets Design Review provides an expert Panel to be a critical friend in supporting conversations with delivery partners.

Shaping Streets Design Review will provide advice and signposting on are

  • Sustainable travel – integrating walking, cycling and public transport,
  • Regeneration of existing streets,
  • Improving public space on streets,
  • Health and wellbeing - air quality, green spaces etc.,
  • Economic resilience - for local businesses,
  • Social value – including cultural benefits.

Shaping Streets Design Review can be used on the following:

  • Existing Streets– particularly if undergoing transformation, such as the High Street,
  • Interchanges- railway, bus and intermodal, 
  • New Streets- particularly those associated with housing growth.

Shaping Streets Design Review refers to best practice, that includes amongst others, Streets for a Healthy Life by Homes England as a companion document to Building for a Healthy Life shows what can be achieved in creating adopted highways that put people first, and provide benefits for people to socialise and play, deliver better public health, biodiversity, reduced carbon emissions and improved water management.

Further guidance on what constitutes good and bad practice is included in Manual for Streets (MfS)  1 and 2, Gear Change, A Bold Vision for Cycling & Walking and Local Transport Note 1/20  on Cycle Infrastructure Design (LTN1/20) and these are referred to as key considerations in a Shaping Streets Design Review. A revised Manual for Streets 3 is in the course of preparation, due to be published in 2022.

Please get in touch to discuss
Training and Professional Development 

We offer training for professionals and community groups on planning and placemaking topics. The sessions can be tailored to suit any budget, and can cover topics from urban design, planning policy, highways design and much more. Design Midlands has developed course content and delivered training events to town planners, urban designers, elected members and highway engineers from several local authorities and the private sector. Our team have been commissioned to deliver bespoke training sessions to help embed good design in planning decision making and plan making. To find out more please get in touch.

Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) Support

Design Midlands offers urban design and creative expertise to capture ideas about the built form, about creating new places and protecting existing places. We provide useful advice and guidance to help with community engagement and planning advice on how to secure the best outcome for your town or village. Design Midlands has been involved in a number of neighbourhood plans, allowing community groups to have their say on a range of planning and design issues. Our team has been commissioned to prepare specific design guidance, to be integrated into neighbourhood plans, producing material and evidence to support robust design led planning policy. Equally, we have ran and organised community workshops, enabling groups to analyse and record the qualities and characteristics of their area, key evidence base material for good plan making.

Planning Support

Design Midlands offers a range of services, to support the progression of developments through the planning system. Providing baseline evidence is essential to secure the best outcome for a place – whether in policy preparation, appraisal of impact by new development or in regenerating the old. Delivering place checks or place analysis, conservation area appraisals or workshops that focus on particular aspects– such as drainage or highways can secure the evidential requirements needed to progress a scheme. 


Art in the Built Environment

Integrating arts at the early stages of built environment schemes is recommended. Talk to us about our full range of support services from visioning and policy through to delivery and completion of schemes.


Fill in the form to request a design review or book a BfHL Assessment
...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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