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Greater Cambridge Design Review Panel


Context of the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning and its Design Review Panel 

Greater Cambridge Shared Planning (GCSP) is the planning service for Cambridge City Council (CCC) and South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC), which includes the City of Cambridge, surrounded by the rural district of South Cambridgeshire, referred to as Greater Cambridge. It is one of the fastest growing economies in the country that will see significant growth within its historic core and the surrounding villages, which are treasured for their architectural heritage and distinctive qualities, making the area a desirable place to live, work and visit. The area has a well-informed, vocal community with strong political leadership that recognises the value of good design and placemaking in creating sustainable places.

Design review is a well-established and effective way of enhancing the quality of the built environment. It is an independent evaluation service where a multi-disciplinary Panel of built and natural environment experts assess the quality of development proposals and recommend improvements. Design review operates in the public interest and is recognised in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The two councils have operated separate Design Review Panels for a while, having helped deliver high quality places and award-winning schemes in the area. The formation of a shared planning service has presented an opportunity to provide a consistent approach to design review that is efficient, effective and follows the Cambridgeshire Quality Charter for Growth.

The new Greater Cambridge Design Review Panel (GCDRP) will support GCSP’s commitment to high-quality design and placemaking, adding value to the planning process, managing change positively and helping create a lasting legacy. It will replace the Design and Conservation Panel at CCC and the Design Enabling Panel at SCDC, learning and building from its experience in practice. The Panel will be administered by GCSP and overseen by an Independent Advisory Group.

Please read the Terms of Reference for detail on how the Review Panel works.


Apply to be a Chair or Panel Member

The Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service is seeking two Chairs, 2 Vice-Chairs and up to 30 panel members for its new Design Review Panel.

The Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service (GCSP) is inviting applications for the role of Chair, Vice-Chair and Panel members for the Greater Cambridge Design Review Panel.

The Greater Cambridge Design Review Panel will be compiled of up to 30 members, 2 Chairs and 2 Vice Chairs, with a balance of skills to address the themes of Community, Character, Connectivity and Climate of the Cambridgeshire Quality Charter for Growth. GCSP are seeking applications from a diverse range of professionals, recognised in their field of expertise, including architecture, urban design, planning, historic environment, landscape architecture, public realm, green infrastructure, sustainability, highway engineering, transport planning, biodiversity, active travel, town centre management and water management.

We welcome applications from individuals who have extensive experience of championing high quality and sustainable placemaking, especially skills in environmental sustainability, transport planning, biodiversity and community planning.   

Applications are particularly encouraged from women, people from black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds and people with disabilities, as these groups are currently under-represented throughout the construction industry.


Commitment to the Panel

Applicants should be able to commit to attending approximately 12 meetings a year if appointed as Chair, or 6 meetings a year as Panel member or Vice-Chair. Appointments will initially be for 3 years starting in January 2021.



Remuneration will be set at £300/half day for Chairs and £200/half day for Vice Chairs and Panel members. The rates include preparation and follow up time. Reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed, and refreshments will be provided. For the purposes of design review a day constitutes 7.5 hrs.


Person Specification: Panel Member

  • A sound understanding of design, the planning process and the development context in England and how to achieve positive placemaking in this context.
  • An understanding and appreciation of various stakeholders involved in the development process including, professional consultants, planners, highways, councillors, community groups etc.
  • Practical experience in making a significant contribution in influencing positive design and place outcomes, with evidence of leadership.
  • An ability to critically appraise development proposals in a positive and constructive manner.
  • An ability to communicate complex design observation to a range of audience in simple terms.
  • An ability to review proposals as a team of experts, acting and advising in the public interest (adhering to the 7 Nolan principles of Public life).
  • An understanding of the Greater Cambridge area, its development, growth and local government context.     


Person Specification: Chair

In addition to the selection criteria for panel members, the Chair should also meet the following specifications:

  • The Chair should be a professional of significant standing in the field of placemaking and be able to act as figurehead for the panel, the two councils, and the Greater Cambridge Area.
  • The Chair should demonstrate personal qualities of authority, diplomacy, meeting management, necessary to guide panel discussions and summarise the Panel’s comments on the day, maintaining a tone of constructive criticism.
  • The Chair should have the ability to synthesize and summarise broad, disparate or conflicting views and reach a consensus on the key issues to be addressed.
  • The Chair should be able to author a report that is clear in its assessment/advice, concise, focused on the key issues, written is simple language, useful to a wide audience including the applicants, planning authority and community.
  • Previous experience or familiarity of serving as a Chair on other Design Review Panels delivering positive outcomes
  • Previous experience or familiarity with the development context of Greater Cambridge.


Assessment and selection process

The Design Review Panel will need a balance of skills to address the 4 Cs (Connectivity, Climate, Community, Character) of the Cambridgeshire Quality Charter for Growth. Applications will be evaluated based on the quality of responses to the questions within the application form that address the personal specification. The scoring criteria are listed below. Question 1 is not marked. Questions 2 to 4 carry equal weight. Applicants with the highest scores will be appointed as Panel members.

The Chair and Vice Chairs will be selected from the appointed Panel members.

For the role of Chair, in addition to questions 1 to 4, applicants should also respond to question 5. Questions 2 to 5 carries equal weight. Question 1 is not marked. Candidates with the highest scores to questions 2 to 5 will be interviewed by Senior Officers of GCSP and Lead Members from CCC and SCDC on 9 and 16 November 2021.

The Vice Chair will be selected in consultation with the Chair.


Scoring criteria

Evaluation of answer


Responses exceed the required standard in all material respects


Responses meet the required standard in most material respects, but are lacking or inconsistent in others


Responses fall short of achieving expected standard in a number of identifiable respects 


Responses significantly fail to meet the standards required, contain significant shortcomings and/or are inconsistent with other proposals


Responses completely fail to meet required standard or do not provide a proposal


Nil response (no answer provided)



How to apply

To apply, please complete an application form and return this, along with a copy of your CV, to by 5pm on Wednesday 27 October 2021. For an informal discussion about this role please contact Joanne Preston, Principal Urban Designer on 07514 923 122.

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