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Greater Cambridge Design Review Panel

Greater Cambridge Design Review Panel 

Design review is a well-established and effective way of enhancing the quality of the built environment that is recognised in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). In Greater Cambridge, design review has helped to deliver high quality award-winning developments in an area that has a well-informed, vocal community with strong political leadership.  

The Greater Cambridge Design Review Panel (GCDRP) offers multi-disciplinary, independent advice from a Panel of over 40 nationally respected built and natural environment professionals. The GCDRP is a critical friend to all parties; it operates in the public interest and the advice is for developers, planning officers, planning committee, parish councils and members of public. The advice of the panel helps to inform the planning process and gives greater confidence to decision makers to support innovative, high-quality design.  

The Panel helps to raise the quality of development by identifying where designs can be improved to achieve the best possible outcomes, in accordance with the local plans for the Cambridge city Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council. The Panel follows a robust design review process consistent with the Cambridgeshire Quality Charter for Growth. It is governed according to the Terms of Reference, managed by GCSP (Greater Cambridge Shared Planning), and overseen by an Independent Advisory Group. 


Enquire to Book a Review Meeting 

GCSP benefits from two Design Review Panels:  

  1. The Cambridgeshire Quality Panel is administered by Cambridgeshire County Council and governed by its own terms of reference. Within the Greater Cambridge area, it reviews strategic scale allocations and policies within the adopted local plans, infrastructure projects and all new schools and extensions. 
  1. The GCDRP is set up to review major or significant planning and pre-planning applications for sites within the Greater Cambridge area, that fall outside of the remit of the Cambridgeshire Quality Panel. The GCDRP may also review any policies, guidance and documents that relate to these sites. Occasionally, the GCDRP may also review projects from outside of the GCSP area, in agreement with the Local Planning Authority.

If you think your scheme would benefit from a Panel Review by the GCDRP, then please read the Quick Guide for Applicants, and fill out an Enquiry Form. We will be in touch with you soon to discuss this further and schedule a meeting. 


The Panel  

The Panel is made up of over 40 Panel Members, with a balance of skills that address the themes of Community, Character, Connectivity and Climate. The members are diverse and nationally respected professionals from the fields of: architecture, urban design, planning, landscape architecture, public realm, sustainability, highway engineers, transport planning, conservation, biodiversity and active travel.  


Types of Schemes Reviewed  

The Panel will review schemes that are significant because of their scale, site or because of a local issue, specific impact exceptional challenge, or public benefit. Further information about the referral criteria is set out in the Quick Guide for Applicants.   

Schemes can be reviewed at any stage in the planning process; however, they benefit most from being brought for review early in the pre-application process, when designs have yet not been fixed. This allows the Panel to be most effective in influencing the design and suggesting improvements. Schemes are encouraged to be brought to design review at least twice. 

Types of Review Meeting 

There are three types of Review that could be selected, as set out below. The Panel Manager will decide which Review is most suitable for a given proposal.  

Full Design Review 

A Full Design Review is for a first review of the scheme, ideally at pre-application stage. It includes a site visit and a review by the Chair and 3 to 4 Panel Members. It will be attended by the planning officer and other key stakeholders, such as officers from the County Council and Historic England. 

Fee: £4000 + VAT 

Subsequent Design Review 

A design workshop is used for second and subsequent reviews, or less complex schemes that do not need a site visit. A design workshop usually takes 2 hours per review. 

Fee: £3500 + VAT 

Chair’s Review 

The Chair’s Review will be used for a limited number of schemes with the agreement of senior officers within GCSPS. It provides a Desktop Review and advice on schemes that have already been to a Full Review and Subsequent Review at pre- application stage. In exceptional cases it may also be used for smaller, less complex schemes. The Review will usually take one hour and be conducted by the Chair plus one Panel Member. The design team is not present; the presentation is delivered by the Planning officer. 

Fee: £2000 + VAT 

Further Information  

Contact Details 

For questions about the Greater Cambridge Design Review Panel, please email