Urban Design Panels

The Scottish Government is striving for high quality design in all new developments, which is apparent from publications such as Designing Places and Planning Advice Notes, together with emphasis on improving skills and the design quality of new development proposals.

In order to achieve these aims an increasing number of local authorities have sought to supplement their expertise by setting up advisory panels to give constructive advice which can be used by design teams, planners and or developers to develop their proposals in a positive way.

These panels are variously known as Urban Design Panels, Design Review Panels or Place and Design Panels, composed of experts in disciplines such as Architecture, Planning, Historic Buildings and Landscape Design. Some of the larger panels also invite interest and community groups to comment on selected projects.

In the main these panels consider selected projects at an early stage to give informal advice to developers on intended projects; advice to the local authority on proposals that have reached planning application stage, and to the local authority on major redevelopment proposals such as local plans or the setting up of conservation areas.

Each local authority has its own terms of reference and governance and membership of the panels may vary. In some cases the Panel is composed of permanent representatives from professional organisations including landscape with additional members invited depending on the nature of the project, while other panels retain details of a number of professionals and make a selection appropriate to the advice required

The new format is a 15 minute presentation, whereby a laptop will be set up at the meeting table (opposed to the lectern) followed by 15 minute Panel Q+A, and 20 minute Panel discussion. The presenter will be invited to remain in the room at the end of the Q+A to listen to the Panel discussion, if they wish to do so. The presenters will be asked to leave the room while the Panel aim to reach Panel Consensus and ratify the Panel Summary. The presenters will then be invited back to hear the summary and consensus, after which the panel will conclude.

Landscape Institute Scotland provides representatives for urban design panels in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and West Dunbartonshire. LIS members act as appointed representatives on each panel:


Glasgow Urban Design Panel

Representatives: Stephen Bacon, Duncan McLean, Richard East. Rotating with James Spence Watson on stand-by


Edinburgh Urban Design Panel

Representatives: Emily Peel Yates, Sam Thomas, Members rotate with JSW and Karen Esslemont as stand-by


Inverness Design Review Panel

Representatives: Roz MacLennan, Karen Esslemont


Place and Design Panel – West Dunbartonshire Council

Representatives: James Spence Watson, Nick Bowen, John Farquhar, Jon Simmons, Marc van Grieken


Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Design Review Panel – Note the Council state that they are intending to close down the panel due to lack of suitable projects coming forward and that they have just appointed a Design Officer. Past lead and stand-by members have been Dr. Susan McFadzean, Sarah Fletcher (nee Hutcheon), Janet Benton, Ujwala Fernandes & Stephen Bridge.


New Panel Proposed – Aberdeenshire Design Panel

Aberdeenshire Council are currently working on the new guidelines and procedures and will call for new members.


LIS is keen to hear of any other panels that have commenced where landscape design could contribute to the raising of design standards generally. If you have any views or wish more details of the panels or are aware of any other panels where landscape can make a contribution, contact James Spence Watson, Secretary to Landscape Institute Scotland: mail.scotland@landscapeinstitute.org


Guidance notes on the purpose and format of teh Design Panels are available: HERE

Please see outline notes and details of past members of Design Panels: HERE

For more detailed guidance information Architecture and Design Scotland also offer guidance on Design Panels: HERE