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Making decisions

Local planning authorities aim to decide applications within either eight or 13 weeks depending on how complex they are. During this time they will consult with neighbours and statutory organisations (like the Environment Agency if there is a risk of flooding in the area).

Click here to access our lesson on Planning process

Managing design projects

A successful project needs a strong individual who provides leadership and is supported by a good team. Strong leadership is about vision, good decision-making and proper communications, all working within a robust and unified project structure.

Click here to access our lesson on Commissioning design work


Masterplans are pretty common at the moment and can be adopted as part of Area Action Plans (AAPs) or Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs). They tend to be more detailed than either frameworks or briefs.

A good masterplan can make a big difference to the long-term success of any area, but they can be time-consuming and expensive to produce. Most are commissioned to be drafted by consultants, either with the local authority or the land owner as client. Their quality relies on a good brief, good project management and a good masterplanning team. Impressive graphics do not necessarily create good masterplans!

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools


Materials specification enables us to make judgement on whether the proposals enhance or detract from the local area. It's also a way of ensuring that contractors do not compromise or substitute for alternative materials, unless approved by the planning authority.

Click here to access our lesson on Technical drawings


When considering whether materials have been used appropriately, you need to ask:

1. Do the buildings or spaces meet performance requirements – such as insulation or absorption of runoff?

2. Has the scheme made use of advances in construction or technology that enhance its performance, quality and attractiveness?

3. Have details such as lighting, signage, shelters, seating, window and door details and so on been properly considered – or will they be?

4. Do internal and external spaces allow for adaptation, conversion or extension?

5. Will the scheme be capable of being well maintained? Are arrangements put in place for this?

Click here to access our lesson on Assessing the design components


National design regulation

Legislation and guidance in the UK requires good urban design, and uses some standard terms to explain design requirements. The aim of the legislation and guidance is to create places that exhibit enough of the qualities of good design to make them work for people, and in the context in which they have been created.

Click here to access the lesson on National design regulation

National planning policy

At the national level, policies are embedded in Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPGs) and the new-style Planning Policy Statements (PPSs).

Click here to access our lesson on National planning policy

non-motorised users

Non-motorised forms of transport such as tricycles, peddle cars, roller blades and horses are becoming more popular. In some instances the quality audit might want to comment on how well the scheme will work for more unusual users, for example, if riding stables are near by, are barriers at the side of bridges high enough to protect riders?

Click here to access our lesson on Quality audits for highways schemes


Orientation of drawings and plans

The orientation of drawings and plans should be consistent and labelled with a north point (N).

All too often you find drawings to scale but orientated away from north so they fit on the page. This is fine, so long as the full sets of drawings are orientated the same way. It makes it much easier to compare if the orientation is consistent.

Click here to access our lesson on Technical drawings


PERS, Pedestrian Environment Review System

PERS is an audit tool, that assesses the walking environment.

Developed by the Transport Research Laboratory, PERS includes:
a reviewer's handbook on how to gather data
a software package that analyses and displays the results of the audit as reports and charts

Click here to access our lesson on Pedestrian Environment Review System, PERS

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