We are committed to securing high-quality development and public realm for those who live in, work in, and visit Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.

Design Review Panels (DRPs) can act as a constructive critical friend. Reviewing proposals helps to deliver design excellence within Torbay. We do not currently run our own DRP or endorse any panel. There are, however, a number operating in the Southwest.

What is a DRP?

DRPs are made up of a pool of independent built environment professionals. They provide design guidance on new development and public realm proposals.

They are an important part of the planning process. We recommend that schemes are reviewed early as part of the pre-application process. DRPs do not make planning decisions and are not a substitute for our Spatial Planning team. DRP members provide supplementary expert appraisal and support.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) endorse their use. Torbay Planning Committee takes into consideration DRP comments. They place weight on a panel’s findings when deciding the outcome of a planning application. Those involved in the decision-making process include Councillors and Neighbourhood Forums

Panels can support Torbay’s planning officers and planning committee. This is done by offering advice to applicants. We can then ensure:

  • the delivery of high-quality developments
  • the creation of exceptional places

Those involved in the decision-making process understand how this process helps. In particular, if it is shown that DRPs endorse or help raise the quality and design of a particular scheme.

The schemes that may be referred include all those for which achieving ‘good design’ has strong significance. Achieving 'good design' is a requirement of the NPPF. These schemes may include:

  • large buildings or groups of buildings
  • large public realm proposals
  • masterplans
  • design codes, design guidance
  • schemes developed through Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs)

Significance related to site and public/civic interest, for example:

  • proposals affecting sensitive views
  • developments with a major impact on their urban or landscape setting
  • schemes involving significant public investment

Projects may also be referred to a panel by the planning authority at its discretion. For example, where it requires advice on:

  • challenging building types
  • environmental sustainability
  • design for climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • proposals likely to establish an important precedent for future development
  • proposals that seek to establish a new or distinct character
  • schemes with significant impacts on the quality of everyday life
  • landscape/public space design

Panel members

DRPs rely on a pool of experts with expertise in:

  • urban design
  • architecture
  • landscape architecture
  • transportation
  • highways
  • sustainability

Types of review and the review process

Alternative review formats/durations are usually offered. This depends on the scale and complexity of each case:

  • desktop review
  • consultation ‘workshop’ review
  • full panel review (virtual or in person with a site visit)

All reviews include the issue of a guidance report as a summary of the meeting. This is sent to the applicant and the local planning