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Thursday, August 17, 2006
Obligatory design statements: good or bad?
An interesting point has been raised in relation to the now-compulsory design and access statements for all planning applications. Brian Waters, joint editor of Planning in London, thinks that they will lead to even further 'dumbing-down' of planning staff within LAs.

He reckons that planners are losing the skills to evaluate design quality through a tick-box approach that codifies 'good' quality rather than relying on good judgement. Its a really universal problem: on the one hand 'good judgement' for one person is another person's stupid personal opinion; on the other hand, quality isn't just about ticking certain boxes: it isn't a quantifiable thing.

I have to admit that I thought the design statements were a good thing but clearly, as with all these statements (EIAs, anyone?) a clever person can write a convincing-sounding design statement for a poor scheme. Planners still need to exercise judgement, comparing the written statement with the actual design to see whether the supposed aspirations are evident in the detail. But I can still see his point - when planners are overloaded with case-work, the temptation will be to read the statement and skim over the drawings.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Ian said...

I already think that the quantity of supporting material supplied with so many planning applications is completely out of context. When I worked for a planning consultancy I prepared planning statements running to 100s of pages for relatively low key developments...further adding to the overload of planners.

I doubt much of it gets read, as so much of it is superflous to the actual scheme, referencing even the most obscure local policies. A lot of it is included to show the client that he is getting value for money.

Word limits could be one solution - it would lower the amount of reading required, force consultants to really focus their argument, and encourage the public to actually read and comment on the documents.

(Great site by the way)

4:36 am  
Anonymous ben patio said...

The whole planning system is about ticking boxes anyway.

11:39 am  

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