Adding value? - Think Design Feasibility

02 Feb 22

At Iceni, we believe good design is an integral part of planning feasibility work. But as the House of Lords have just pointed out, planning authorities in their efforts to ‘Meet Housing Demand’, have, to an extent, sacrificed the feasibility element.

A representative from the House of Lords said: “There is an evolving crisis: local planning authorities do not have sufficient financial resources, and in many cases do not have the skilled personnel, to deliver a quality service in a reasonable timeframe.” This is causing delays, poor decision-making, and a greater reliance on the appeals process.

A part of the problem is a misunderstanding what the feasibility stage actually does, with planning officers occasionally preferring to focus on “what will it look like” and consequently placing subjective appearance ahead of viability and design fundamentals.

True design feasibility should be integrated at the earliest stage, as it is often during early evaluation that key decisions and assumptions about the nature of a place get made.

Early fundamentals should be considered, such as placemaking, value, budget, development strategy, transport factors and nature and purpose of the project, prior to a more technical assessment down the line. In this way, we can safeguard against delays and poor decision-making.

Understanding the constraints, parameters, policies, and physical/ market contexts from inception, will help establish robust reference points and risks going forward. And depending on the project, site, and context, facilitate opportunities for enhancing value above the norm and well into the future.

Providing planning authorities with better skills and resources enables more value on this early inception work. It would also resolve many of the short comings identified by the House of Lords.

Let’s clear out some of the old habits and gain an ability to commit. In so doing, it is our job as designers and planners to help our clients negotiate this world. At Iceni, having a multi-disciplinary team, covering Planning, Heritage, Sustainability, Archaeology, and Engagement, makes this process a lot easier.

Paul Drew Director,Design
Private: Conor McKee Director,Design

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