Consultation starts as two bodies formally merge

The Design Council is commencing a “root and branch review” of services provided by former design quango Cabe as the merger of the two bodies is formally completed today.

The consultation report will be authored by former Design for London chief executive Peter Bishop and the process will be chaired by former Cabe chair Paul Finch.

It will focus in particular on the future of design review, the practice whereby a Cabe-appointed panel reviews the quality of the design of projects before they are given planning permission.

A statement from the Design Council, now an independent charity now taking on the work of the merged bodies, said the review would look at “recommendations of market models” for funding design review, despite controversy in the past over whether commercial funding could compromise the independence of the process.

The Cabe part of the Design Council only has funding for two years under the Comprehensive Spending Review, after which it is likely to have to be funded entirely by councils and the development industry.

The UK-wide consultation, which will run from April to June, will be supported by an external advisory group to act as a sounding board for ideas coming back from the consultation.

Internally the Design Council’s new Cabe director of design, Diane Haigh, will assist the process.

David Kester, chief executive of the Design Council said: “Design Reviews and other forms of support such as enabling within local communities are an essential component of the planning and development system. This consultation is a rare opportunity to listen to people’s opinions and suggestions, and create a system that is truly responsive to the needs of our communities, economy and changing planning system.”

Bishop will complete the report by late summer.