A highlight of 2023 for Design Yorkshire was reviewing proposals for the Ice Factory, Grimsby. Credit: Waugh Thistleton Architects

Design Yorkshire offers constructive peer review

Jamie Wilde, Design Yorkshire

If your development could benefit from guidance on anything from architecture to ecology, writes Jamie Wilde, then the 40-strong panel at Design Yorkshire can help.

Design Yorkshire is a not-for-profit that works throughout Yorkshire and the Humber providing planning and design support to government agencies, local planning authorities, developers, design teams and communities.

We are a member of the Design Network, a group of seven not-for-profits working in each region nationally to promote and encourage the best in design and placemaking. Design Yorkshire is also the region’s only accredited Building for a Healthy Life provider, and provides BHL support, guidance and assessments.

Utilising a panel of 40 built environment professionals covering a range of specialisms including: architecture, planning, urban design, landscape architecture, heritage, ecology, and more, Design Yorkshire is able to assemble panels with specialist skills to help provide expert advice and guidance on schemes throughout the region. The organisation offers a range of services including design enabling, training, and design review.

Design Review is a tried and tested peer review system that supports design teams in achieving optimal design solutions on their sites and schemes.

Design Yorkshire recently supported Gladman on a key development site in Tadcaster. Kathy Putnam, planning director at Gladman, said: “We engaged early in the design process with Design Yorkshire on our outline planning application. We found it to be a very helpful, constructive, and worthwhile exercise that enabled a proper open dialogue between all parties on the design evolution of the scheme. Where able, we have incorporated most of the positive suggestions received in the final development proposal. We would recommend getting Design Yorkshire involved at the earliest stage possible, to ensure that your scheme is genuinely landscape and design-led’.

Persimmon West Yorkshire benefited from Design Yorkshire’s input to its Silsden project. Credit: Persimmon

Ben Bowman, strategic land manager for Persimmon West Yorkshire, said: “Persimmon West Yorkshire has utilised Design Yorkshire’s design review service to support the design development on some of our recent strategic and sensitive sites. We have found the review panel and process to be positive and constructive, aimed at improving design quality.

“For our Silsden scheme, which received planning consent in 2023, we undertook three design reviews with Design Yorkshire as part of an iterative design process. This allowed us to focus on key strategic issues with the initial review, and then focus on design detail with the subsequent sessions. The guidance and feedback supported us in creating a high-quality and well-designed scheme that responds to local context. We would use Design Yorkshire again on other important sites in the future.”

Design Review can be undertaken at all stages of the planning and design process. There are different benefits to engaging in review at different stages. Early design support can provide design teams with guidance around strategic decisions and key development principles to help inform the more detailed stages of proposals. Involvement at later stages can be helpful to assess the design quality of schemes to support local authorities and planning committees in assessing planning applications.

The most interesting scheme we reviewed in 2023 was the Ice Factory in Grimsby, being redeveloped by local developer Tom Shutes. This is a grade two star-listed building constructed in 1900 to produce crushed ice for the town’s trawler fleets. It was operational until 1990 but had since fallen into disrepair, being listed as one of Europe’s most at risk heritage buildings. We were fortunate to have an in-depth guided tour of the building as part of the design review. A bold project to redevelop the factory into a live events venue has recently gained planning approval at committee with unanimous support. The panel were impressed with the scheme which retains some of the historic machinery in situ to help celebrate the building’s history which users of the space will be able to interact with as they pass through the building.

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