Rotheram urges review take-up as Places Matter gets on front foot

Liverpool City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram has encouraged developers and councils to take advantage of the free design reviews offered by architectural advisory body Places Matter.

Supported by RIBA, the reviews are funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government through the Planning Delivery Fund awarded to the LCR combined authority, and are offered for developers and local authorities with suitable projects anywhere in the six LCR authorities.

Each review will be carried out through Places Matter’s established panel of 60 industry experts, at no cost to the applicant.

Places Matter is also stepping forward to assist North West councillors elected to positions in planning and regeneration, with a series of free training events to be held this autumn.

To be held at venues in Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Kendal, the events are funded by MHCLG through the Design Network and will focus on design and placemaking using the Design Compendium approach and other methods such as Building for Life 12.  There will be 30 free places at each event for cabinet members and councillors from planning and regeneration committees.

Of the Liverpool City Region project, Rotheram said: “The design of the places where we live, work and spend our leisure time plays a key role in our wellbeing, health and happiness.

“This initiative is part of my pledge to champion high-quality design across the city region and I would encourage developers and our colleagues in local authorities to take advantage of the free expertise available.”

Richard Tracey, design review manager at Places Matter, said “This is a tremendous opportunity for developers to bring forward schemes and gain the knowledge and expertise of Places Matter at no cost.

“The scale of the initiative allows us to look at a wide variety of projects, from whole new settlements and masterplans, down to individual city centre development plots.”

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A nice idea but can’t see developers taking up the offer in great numbers from a band of self-appointed (albeit well-meaning) experts

By John Smith

In response to John Smith’s comment; developer’s shouldn’t be afforded the ability to run amok with the built environment. They are doing so and are able to exploit the inadequacies of the under resourced and architecturally inexperienced city planning department.

In addition to the need for training in such arenas, I have for long believed that developers should pay a civic tax of sorts that would contribute to the development of the public realm. Irrespective of whether you consider UNESCO status to be that much of a big deal, it is a damning indictment of the current state of affairs that poor quality, high yield developments have compromised the city’s urban fabric. Moreover, these residential and commercial units continue to blanket the ground plane leaving little room for important public spaces like courtyards, parks and gardens.

This move is an excellent one and Steve Rotherham is to be commended.

By Tom M

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