Torbay Council

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Design Review Panel Pre-Planning Services

The Torbay Design Review Panel (TDRP) was established in 2008 by the Torbay Cultural and Environmental Partnership to promote the highest possible quality of design in Torbay and to ensure that our built environment matches our stunning natural environment. Whilst it is funded by Torbay Council, it is a separate entity and gives independent advice. It has been set up in consultation with the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) to ensure it meets with national best practice. The panel is chaired by the local authority Design Champion appointed by the council.


The TDRP has been established to provide a forum to promote design excellence offering peer advice to designers and developers in order to promote an enlightened approach and higher quality outcomes. The TDRP’s role is in an advisory capacity to the council. It has no statutory function. The advice given by the panel will be a material consideration in the council’s statutory planning function in determining planning applications.

What does the Torbay Design Review Panel do?

The TDRP may consider the following design matters: Major development, infrastructure or public realm proposals or other major projects that are located within Torbay and involve significant design considerations; relevant strategic planning, design and transport issues. In certain circumstances, according to the nature of the application, items may be referred instead to the regional or national review panels.

Who sits on the panel?

There are normally seven panel members. A core group of three including the Chair and Secretary will sit at every meeting. Two further specialist panel members from disciplines such as public art, urban design or contemporary architecture will also sit according to the requirements of the scheme being considered. To ensure independence, these panel members will be drawn from respected regional, national and international practices based outside of Torbay. Also, two local experts will be drawn from a pool of design professionals based within Torbay to bring an understanding of the things that make Torbay’s built environment so special. The membership of the panel will be reviewed every 12 months.

When and how is panel advice sought and what will it cost?

The panel sits every two months. The Chair, a member from the TDRP and the Executive Head of Spatial Planning will meet on a regular basis to review incoming development proposals and select schemes which they feel could benefit from advice from the panel. To cover the cost of the panel there is a charge of £500 per one hour review. Applicants can request that the panel reviews a scheme more than once. For particularly large schemes requiring more time, or for urgent cases, it may be possible to convene a special meeting of the panel at a cost of £2,000 per session, again payable in advance.

Who attends the Panel?

The following people attend panel meetings: The Chair, Secretary and panel members, the officer responsible for conservation and design, scheme planning officer, scheme architect and the applicant.

What happens during a panel?

It is vital that the panel understands the context in which the scheme has been designed. Before the meeting, panel members will visit the site accompanied by officers. So that they can understand the scheme, applicants are asked to provide a briefing paper. This should not be more than two sides of A3 and in pdf format. This document is to convey the aspects of the scheme that the applicant wishes panel members to see ahead of the formal presentation. The document should also have some key questions for the panel which should be agreed between the applicant and the planning case officer. At an agreed time and venue the applicant/architect is invited to present the scheme to the panel members. The presentation should be of around 15 minutes. The format of the presentation is at the discretion of the applicant. Hard copy drawings and, even better, a ‘working’ model are the primary means for presenting to the panel. A laptop and PowerPoint projector will be available and may be used in addition to these. Following the presentation the Chair will identify the key issues raised in the summary and will lead the panel in discussion with the applicant. This normally takes 30 minutes. At the end of the discussion the Panel Chair closes the open part of the meeting and the applicants retire to allow the panel members to compile their report. Whilst many issues will have been discussed at the panel meeting, it is the final written report that will be considered as a material consideration in the statutory planning process.

How is the panel’s advice given?

A report based on the panel’s comments will be prepared by the panel’s secretary and sent electronically to all attending members to confirm that the report accurately reflects the view of the panel. It will then be sent to Torbay Council approximately one week after the panel meeting. Torbay Council will then circulate the report to the project architect/ designer. This information will then be published on our website once a formal planning application is received.

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