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About us

The quality of our built environment has an impact on all sections of our community. Good design makes the single largest contribution to the quality of our environment and the Government has enshrined their commitment to promoting good design through the planning system and the use of Design Review in a policy document called the National Planning Policy Framework or NPPF.

The SDRP was established by RIBA Suffolk in 2012 in response to the National Planning Policy Framework which was published by the government in March of that year and which recommended that Local Authorities should make use of Design Review when considering planning applications.


Paragraph 62 of the NPPF

Local planning authorities should have local design review arrangements in place to provide assessment and support to ensure high standards of design. They should also when appropriate refer major projects for a national design review. In general, early engagement on design produces the greatest benefits. In assessing applications, local planning authorities should have regard to the recommendations from the design review panel.


The fundamental aim of the Suffolk Design Review Panel is to promote and encourage high standards in design of the built environment in Suffolk.

What is Design Review

What is Design Review

Design review is an independent design support process which brings together experts from across the built environment professions to work alongside local authorities in considering proposals brought to them through the planning application system.

The panel of design experts carefully considers designs for new developments presented to them in conjunction with representation made by the local authority and, after detailed discussion with the applicants and the planning authority, forms a considered view on the design merit of a particular scheme.

The panel’s conclusions are then consolidated in the form of a short report which is issued to the applicant and the local authority. The planning authority should then take into account the findings of the review panel when determining the application.

How it works

How it works

Local authorities or members of the public can apply to the SDRP to have a scheme reviewed by the panel, usually at the ‘Pre-Application’ stage of the project.

The panel will normally comprise of 5 members including the chair person whose expertise is drawn from a pool of various design disciplines appropriate to the nature of the scheme being presented.

The panel is normally convened on a weekday afternoon and is held at the Seminar Room, The Jerwood DanceHouse, Foundry Lane, Ipswich IP4 1DW.

Panels are not held on prearranged regular intervals but are convened in response to demand and will require a number of schemes to apply before the date can be set. Dates are programmed approximately 4 weeks in advance of each panel.

The cost of bringing a proposal to the panel is £350 for work relating to a single existing dwelling, £650 for work relating to a single new dwelling and for larger schemes the cost is calculated on a case by case basis by application to the panel coordinator. VAT is not applied.

How to apply

How to apply

  • Contact the panel coordinator to register your project for review : 

       Paul Kirkham RIBA 01787 211670 / 07976 298123 

  • When sufficient projects have been registered to convene a panel, the panel coordinator will make contact to confirm a date for you and your planning case officer to attend.

  • An invoice will be issued for payment of the panel fee which is due no later than two weeks prior to the panel.


  • The planning case officer should be asked to prepare a short introduction to the scheme describing the broad nature of the proposal, outlining the stage at which your application stands in the planning process, noting any relevant previous planning history, highlighting particular planning policies considered pertinent, and describing any particular concerns or issues that they wish to emphasise to the panel. This should take no more than about 5-10 minutes.


  • The applicant should prepare the main presentation to the panel either for projection of computer images onto a screen or by physical drawings of sufficient size to present at the meeting. Applicants normally speak for 10 - 20 minutes.

  • An agenda will be issued at least 10 days before the panel date, setting out the exact timing of reviews for the day.



  • Introduction by planning case officer or other representative of the local planning authority. The panel will then ask questions of the case officer.


  • Main presentation of the scheme by the applicant or Architect. The panel will then ask questions to ensure full understanding.


  • Discussion about key issues.


  • The applicant and local authority will be asked to leave the room for 5-10 minutes while the panel discuss in private.


  • The applicant and local authority then return to hear the conclusions of the panel.


  • Generally, about 1 hour and 30 minutes will be allocated in total to each review.


  • Within approximately 4 weeks a written report will then be issued to the applicant and the local planning authority to reflect the conclusions of the panel.

The Panel

The Panel

Each Panel is managed by one of three chair persons plus four further panel members, selected from a pool of approximately 25 members, to reflect the requirements of each individual proposal.


The Panel chairs:


Meredith Bowles

Director of Mole Architects based in Cambridge, has held teaching posts London South Bank University, Sheffield University, and The University of Cambridge. Past Chairman of Cambridge Association of Architects, he is currently a Council member of the Cambridge Forum for the Construction Industry, and a co deputy-chair of the Cambridge Quality Panel. National and regional awards include 11 RIBA Awards, the RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize, the RIBA Manser Medal, and the  British Homes Award. He was recently External Examiner at Sheffield Hallam University, and is currently External Panel member for Norwich University of Arts.


Anthony Hudson

Founder of Hudson Architects based in London, Norwich and Holt. With over 30 years experience, Anthony has led a multi award-winning practice producing diverse, innovative work from public buildings and spaces to bespoke homes. National and regional awards include 8 RIBA awards, 4 RICS awards, Civic Trust and Sunday Times Building of the Year awards. Anthony has held posts as external examiner at Cambridge, Newcastle and Kingston Universities and is currently Visiting Professor of Architecture at Norwich University of Arts. 

hannah loftus.jpg

Hannah Loftus

Hana Loftus is a designer and chartered planner. She is co-director of HAT Projects, an architecture and planning practice based in Colchester, Essex. She has led a wide range of award-winning projects, including cultural buildings, workspace, masterplans and public realm as well as extensive work as a community engagement specialist, enabler and facilitator. She has worked in some of the most challenging communities in the UK to build strong community relationships and bring co-design into masterplans, design strategies and policy. Hana was a Public Practice associate in the first cohort and led public engagement for the Greater Cambridge Planning Service for a number of years. She has taught and examined at London Metropolitan University, the London School of Architecture and others, has been a trustee of DanceEast and Roman River Music, and is currently is chair of the Creative Colchester Partnership.



Payment should be sent to :


Chris Wilkie - Treasurer

RIBA Suffolk Design Review Panel

c/o Rees Pryor Architects

The Studio

Drinkstone Office Park

Kempson Way

Bury St Edmunds IP32 7AR


For payments via direct bank transfer our bank details are:

Sort Code: 08-92-99 Account No: 65653434

Account Name: Suffolk Design Review Panel

Please use the Invoice Number as Reference

For more information

Contact the Panel Coordinator - Paul Kirkham RIBA 01787 211670 / 07976 298123 

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