We set up the first regional design panel in 2002. Over time, we evolved the service from the established model of ‘centralised’ reviews of submitted applications to a network of local panels providing pre-application advice. The first of these panels was commissioned by Ashford Borough Council in Kent and was motivated by feedback from the council and the requirement to have more continuous and specific service. Responding to this, we worked in partnership with officers to develop a new locally specific panel which was integrated into the council’s development management process. This was the country’s first professional, independently-managed local panel.
The panel has helped to guide development in Ashford’s town centre which has seen considerable investment since the arrival of high-speed rail. We have also reviewed lower density urban extensions, other major allocations and single private houses in the rural parts of the borough.
To find out more about our current work with the council, click here.