Regional Design Review (Design Review) panels are becoming established nationwide in the United Kingdom as a means to help raise design quality of new development. The panels were initiated by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), and the weight given to the Design Review panel comments in planning decision making appears set to increase. No statute, however, or even national policy, explains the role of the panels or their place in relation to other design guidance available to Local Planning Authorities and developers. This means that users may have difficulty using Design Review panel advice, accepting its legitimacy or according it appropriate weight in planning decision making. Recent research by CABE (2009) indicates that Design Review panels provide a useful input to the planning decision-making process, but this same research demonstrates that there are areas of concern, especially among planners. The views of the Regional Design Review panel members throughout the United Kingdom (mostly independent architects and planners), as well as user (local authority planner and developer) perceptions on possible improvements, are examined in this research through semi-structured interviews. Possible approaches to clarifying the place of Design Review within urban design guidance governance, as well as ways in which Design Review panels might improve communication with users, are among the outcomes from this research
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