Design South East has launched a new design review panel on behalf of the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC), named the Ebbsfleet Garden City Design Forum.
Set up by Government in 2015 the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation is tasked with the creation of a 21st century garden city in north Kent. The programme is one of the largest developments in the UK and will deliver improved infrastructure, amenities and up to 15,000 new homes; at least 30 per cent of which will be affordable. With such a huge opportunity, the EDC team is on a mission to deliver the highest quality development possible. These ambitions were further bolstered in late October when they announced the successful acquisition of 310 acres of land around Ebbsfleet International train station. The purchase allows the EDC to now move forward with plans to create Ebbsfleet Central, introducing a new commercial and residential centre providing jobs, homes, community and cultural facilities.

Simon Harrison, Head of Design at the EDC commented, “When government set-up the development corporation in 2015, quality, ambition and pace were highlighted as key drivers for the Garden City. We have chosen Design South East to host the Ebbsfleet Design Forum and embed a collaborative design review panel at the heart of our design management processes, driving quality in all of our major projects.”

The Ebbsfleet Garden City Design Forum process is based on design review, a practice where a diverse panel of experts provide constructive advice on schemes, it will promote open and collaborative design review sessions, focussing on co-design between Forum members and design teams. The recommendations of the panel will be incorporated into a report for both the applicant and the local authority.

The collaborative working method of the Forum will encourage creative thinking and rigorous discussion, safeguarding the quality of design and placemaking across this future garden city. Design South East’s team will manage and monitor the delivery of the Forum. This ensures the EDC’s ambitions for a new style of design review are met. One that proactively engages developers and their designers in dialogue, creating real impact on the quality of design in Ebbsfleet.

The Forum will be especially important to the Ebbsfleet area because of its difficult topography and unique post-industrial landscape. This in combination with its proximity to the existing communities of Swanscombe, Greenhithe, Dartford and Gravesend have created complex opportunities for the EDC. In response to this challenge Design South East worked carefully to build a panel of experts best placed to provide specialist advice.

Panel members were recruited from architecture, urbanism, landscape, and specialists in the field of community engagement. Professionals from highways, transport, sustainability and historic environments were included and those from public art and meanwhile uses. They will work on a range of projects from masterplans to community buildings, housing developments, local squares and major parks; including specialist projects such as secondary schools.