The high quality of life that Brighton and Hove offers means that it is facing intense pressure to accommodate housing growth. Located between a national park and the sea, options to expand geographically are limited. The challenge the city council faces is to how to accommodate growth without compromising the city’s unique quality and qualities.
In 2016 the council tendered a contract for a new PLACE review panel to help deliver help address this challenge and deliver its long-term objectives for quality of place. On appointment, we undertook an open recruitment exercise which resulted in a strong and diverse panel. We understood that to be truly effective we needed to understand the council’s vision for the future and where it was in terms of planning for how to address its most pressing need; delivering high quality, high density housing. As a result, we ensured that the panel understood the City Plan and the principles embedded in the council’s design guidance. We review major applications against this policy context, and we have reviewed a number of key schemes which are contributing to the densification of the city and we are often looking at proposals in sensitive locations and are mindful of Brighton’s unique character. Uptake of design review has increased as officers and members come to see its benefit. The panel expertise is also deployed flexibly, and we offer advice and guidance on the development of policies, masterplans and projects through design workshops helping to broker agreement on policy principles and masterplan principles for key sites. We are also strengthened the councils design management skills through officer and member training. Determined to help the council promote a conversation about the future of the city we have delivered a series of events to engage stakeholders including roundtables and an annual city charrette which have brought people together to address the design and place-making challenges of the city, helping the council to work with stakeholders on the development of solutions to critical challenges such as raising density on major development sites and developing appropriate typologies for the urban fringe.
Our contract was renewed in 2019 and clear, consistent advice from a multidisciplinary design panel remains the core of our work with the council. But we continue to facilitate workshops to support the development of the council’s design policies and masterplans, we are delivering a programme of officer and member training through briefings, workshops and study tours and we are promoting stakeholder and community dialogue though a 2-day city charrette.