Design Review at work in Stockport

Places Matter! advice adds millions to NW projects

New research by Amion Consulting indicates £34m may be added to the value of 144 development schemes that have undergone design reviews by the region's architecture and built environment centre.

Amion found a "clear logic chain" between recommendations by the 41-strong design review panel, made up of professionals from various fields including architects, developers, engineers and planners, and the impact on rent and capital in terms of design decisions.

Design Review panel meetings allow local authorities, clients, developers and design teams to present their schemes and benefit from the discussion and constructive advice of the panel.

Amion found that an increase equivalent to 2% on the value of built projects in the North West could be achieved as a result of the Place Matter! Design Review, adding £34m to £1.8bn worth of development schemes if projects are fully implemented.

Earlier research by Amion and Taylor Young for Places Matter! into the Economic Value of Good Design showed that good design can add an increase of up to 20% in rental and capital value. Improvements can be made at a stage in the process where changes are cost neutral yet add significant value to the scheme, Places Matter! said.

Ben Brinicombe, property regeneration manager for Derwent & Solway Housing Association, has used the Design Review service. He said: "I have found the involvement of the Design Review Panel to be invaluable and it has significantly enhanced the design process for Derwent Close. I believe that the tougher stance has proved useful in this case as it ensured our architects worked extremely hard to turn around the scheme from being 'fair' to 'very good'. I hope that with the final few tweaks we can get it up to 'excellent'."

The research by Amion was published in the Places Matter! Annual Review 2009/10 and measures the impact of Design Review on the potential capital values of 144 development schemes in the region that have gone through the process.

Annie Atkins, Places Matter! programme director, added: "It's important that we get the right designs for the right places. In the last year Places Matter! has worked with the majority of local authorities in the North West to safeguard the quality of design and ensure development reflects the economic and physical context as well as the aspirations of local people."

In 2009/10 the Places Matter! Design Review Panel reviewed 87 development schemes representing £1.09bn of investment in the North West, and engaged with 38 of the 42 local authorities.

Richard Tracey, head of environmental quality at the North West Development Agency, said: "These figures clearly demonstrate the significant economic impact that good design can make to a development scheme. Design Review has helped to create better quality places in the North West, supported people to gain better skills and maximised the value of many development projects. I am pleased that the NWDA has been able to support Places Matter! which has delivered a very high value for money from our investment in this Northwest wide programme"

During the year Places Matter!, based in Liverpool, has also:

  • Published findings to demonstrate that well designed buildings and public spaces outperform poorly designed developments during a recession
  • Provided training for every local authority in the Northwest to provide Building for Life Assessors to ensure that new housing developments deliver high quality homes for local people
  • Delivered training on good street design
  • Worked with 14-19 year olds in Liverpool and Manchester to provide them with a taste of careers in the built environment.

For 2010/11 Places Matter! is seeking to ensure that the services it delivers continue to meet the needs of local communities and built environment practitioners in the Northwest. To have your say on future services visit and complete a short questionnaire.

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