Additional Terms of Reference 

Conflicts of Interest 

The Design Review Panel provides a constructive pre-application forum for developers and their design teams seeking design guidance at an early stage of development proposals. In order to ensure the Panel’s independence and professionalism, it is essential that Design Review Panel members avoid any conflicts of interest that might arise in relation to schemes that come before them during the reviews. The following policies and procedures therefore apply: 

  • Conflicts of interests by Panel members should be formally recorded, ideally in advance of each meeting. 

  • Panel members are notified of the schemes coming before the Panel at least a week in advance. It is expected that at this time, Panel members should declare any possible interest in a project to Jonathan Braddick. 

  • Design officers, in collaboration with the Design Review Panel Chair and other local authority officers, will determine if the conflict of interest is of a prejudicial nature. 

  • A Panel member has a prejudicial interest in a proposal if he or she has:

  • financial, commercial or professional interest in a project, its client and / or its site;

  • a personal relationship with either the site or an individual or group involved in the project, where that relationship prevents the Panel member from being objective. 

  • If it is deemed that a conflict of interest is of a prejudicial nature, the Panel member will not participate in reviews for the proposal. He or she will not take part in private discussions in connection with the project, and will not be in the room during the discussions about the project. 

  • If it is deemed that a conflict of interest is of a non-prejudicial nature, the Panel member may be allowed to participate in the review. In this situation, the interest will be noted at the beginning of the review, discussed with the presenting design teams and formally recorded in the final report. 

  • If a Panel member reviews a scheme, he or she should not comment on the proposal in any other formal capacity, for example through a public consultation exercise. 

  • If a member is approached to become involved in projects that have been presented to The Design Review Panel which they sat on, they should not do so for a period of at least one year after the Council has determined the scheme. 

Panel Members Presenting to the Panel 

Situations may arise where a Panel Member is required to present a project to the Panel as the applicant/applicant’s representative. In this situation the Panel member is not acting as a Design Review Panel member, but in the capacity as the applicant/applicant’s representative. Panel Members may attend meetings as part of a team presenting a project; however they should not attend any other part of the same meeting in their capacity as a Panel Member.

Confidentiality Requirements  

The following procedures apply: 

  • Panel meetings are only to be attended by the Design Review Panel members, local authority officers, and officers from statutory bodies involved in the project, as well as the developer and their design team. If any additional individual is to be in attendance, it should be approved by the Panel Chair and officers. 

  • Panel members shall keep confidential all information provided to them as part of their role on the Design Review Panel, and shall not use that information for their own benefit, nor disclose it to any third party (with the exception of reports that are in the public domain – see points below). 

  • The Panel’s advice is provided in the form of a report written by the Design Review Panel Chair, containing the key points arrived at during discussion by the Panel. If any developer, architect, or agent approaches a Panel member for advice on a scheme subject to review (before, during or after), then they should decline to comment and refer the inquiry to the relevant local authority. This should not limit Panel members from professionally working on projects within the local authority. However if such a scheme comes up for review, that Panel member should not be involved and must declare a conflict of interest. 

  • Following the meeting, the Design Review Panel chair writes a draft report, circulates it to the Design Review Panel members in attendance for comments, and then makes amendments, as required. The Chair then forwards the report to the local authority, who will distribute it to all relevant stakeholders. Until that time, the report remains confidential. 

  • If the proposal is at the pre-application stage, then the report is not made public and is only shared with the relevant local authority, the developer and design team, and any other statutory bodies involved in the project. 

  • If the proposal is reviewed at the application stage or once a reviewed scheme is submitted as a planning application, the report becomes a public document and is kept within the proposal’s case file. However, only the final report is made public. Any other information from the Panel meeting that is not expressed in this report remains confidential. 

  • If a Design Review Panel member wishes to share a final report with a third party, they must seek approval from the relevant local authority, who will confirm whether or not the report is public. 

Site Visits  

In many cases, the design officer will arrange a site visit prior to presentation to the Design Review Panel. The Panel Chair will attend, as will the case officer for the proposal. For smaller project proposals, a site visit may not occur prior to the review. In such cases, detailed site contextual information will need to be included in the briefing information. In general, site visits will not be required for second reviews, unless major contextual or other changes have occurred since the last review.

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