Farrell Review Grapples with Government Role in Design Quality

Wednesday 24 July 2013

The Farrell Review grappled with issues ranging from design review to education, research and post-occupancy evaluations in its latest workshop at the NLA this week.

The workshop on design quality – which was run in accordance with Chatham House rules for the invitees – included representatives from the review ‘home team’ including Sunand Prasad, Max Farrell and Peter Bishop, along with invited architects, planners and local authority figures.

Max Farrell kicked off proceedings by revealing that some 200 responses had been received from its call for evidence, representing over 100,000 people, since many of those were from institutions. He stressed that, unlike the Urban Task Force report with which it has often been compared, the Farrell review is independent, nonpartisan and collaborative, and will include 12 workshops on subjects including sustainability, landscape, architecture policy, developers’ views, and the lobbying of numerous politicians. This lobbying has thus far included meetings with shadow minister for culture Dan Jarvis, an all-party parliamentary group, and Lord Taylor, who is also conducting a review of planning guidance. The review has already held similar workshop sessions in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle.

A wide-ranging discussion at the meeting on Tuesday included items such as whether or not the UK should follow much of Europe and create an architecture policy; the standard of government procurement and what can be done to improve it; the teaching of the built environment in schools; design review and design champions; the need for effective research and an evidence base supporting the economic benefits of high quality architecture; and, indeed, the definitions involved in what is good (and bad) quality architecture.

The review process continues, and the report will be submitted to its commissioner, architecture minister Ed Vaizey by the end of the year.  

David Taylor, New London Quarterly

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