Design Review

What is Design Review?

Design Review is a respected method of improving the quality of new development by offering constructive, impartial and expert advice. Design Review panel meetings allow local authorities, clients, developers and design teams to present their schemes at the pre-planning stage to a panel of experts from the built environment sector and benefit from the discussion and constructive advice of the panel. design_north east, Design Review consists of a pen of respected built environment professionals providing expertise from a range of fields including: development, architecture, engineering, planning, landscape architecture, urban design, public art and local planning. We would like to encourage you to take part in the process by either bringing forward schemes which may benefit from Design Review or attending as an observer at one of our sessions, to experience the process for yourself and consider whether the service may become a useful tool as part of a wider consultation process for projects in your area.

How to submit a scheme

After contacting design_north east for an initial discussion, you will be given a slot at a Design Review panel meeting and sent out an Information Pack and pro-forma to complete. The pro-forma is also available to download below. We will arrange a site visit prior to the panel meeting to give us an overview of the scheme. The information you have provided to us on the completed pro-forma and during the site visit will be compiled into a synopsis in order for us to brief the panel on your scheme prior to the panel meeting. Your team including client, local authority and design team will attend a session at the agreed panel meeting day (usually lasting one hour) and deliver a fifteen-minute presentation to the panel. This will then be followed by an interactive Q&A session and the Chair's summing up. You will be sent a written report reflecting the panel's comments on the day within seven working days of the panel meeting. Should a scheme require a second iteration review this can also be arranged.

Contact us for an initial discussion
Download Submission Pro-forma


The fee for bringing a scheme for a single Design Review is £1,750 (+ VAT). For larger schemes we can negotiate a package of support including more than one design review.

design_north east Services Brochure


The ten principles of good Design Review

Case Study: The Malings

One of the reasons why developer Igloo took its scheme for The Malings, a housing development at Ouseburn on Tyneside, to design review was because it was its first project in the region. David Roberts, director of Igloo, explained, ‘We often move into an area where we do not have a lot of experience. It is part of our process of engagement to say that we are not from around here but we have spent time and this is what we think.’ The Malings is the first of six projects that Igloo is undertaking, on land owned by the HCA. It was appointed following a developer competition in which it had to submit outline ideas for all six sites and more detailed ones for the first. On this project, Igloo is working with London-based architect Ash Sakula which designed 76 houses and flats in terraces of varying heights which fan down towards the Ouseburn River. The design is, said Roberts, ‘so good for that site’ and the team at design review agreed. They saw it twice, in March and September 2012, once when it was at a fairly outline stage and the second time, six months later, with far more detail and both times had only minor comments to make such as about the ease of bin lorries manoeuvring on the steeply sloping streets. The project had received some resistance from adjacent businesses, a pub and a timber yard, that were worried that the new residents would object to their noise. Although Igloo had addressed these concerns directly, Roberts felt that there was value in being able to show that the project had support from design review. Robert Sakula, one of the founders of Ash Sakula, sits on design review panels elsewhere in the country and is a great fan of the process. ‘Sometimes we have had a rough ride from planners,’ he said. ‘In those circumstances a design review might persuade local opinion that there is something worthwhile.’ Lucille Robertson, planning officer for The Malings, attended the initial design review, the first time that she had been to one. ‘It was a good two-way process,’ she said. ‘I felt that the design review panel made good points and where Igloo didn’t want to respond to them by changing the design, it gave the reason why.’ Igloo has continued to take its projects in the area to design review. On the third of the six, at Malmo Quay, it presented it at a very early masterplan stage. ‘We had been responding to very critical community engagement by making the architecture as polite as possible,’ David Roberts said. ‘But the design review panel challenged us to be more exciting.’ As a result, Igloo ran a design competition and appointed three architects to produce schemes with which it is delighted.