The Design Deficit

This resource presents findings of a study exploring urban design skills and approaches within England’s local planning authorities. It concludes that urban design skills are low in order to address the ambitious national agenda on raising the design quality of new development. It presents areas where work is needed in order to raise up the capacity for effective and transformative new development in England.

Date added 11 November 2021
Last updated 11 November 2021

This resource highlights that there is a design deficit in England’s local planning authorities. This study highlights that among other issues, the design deficit arises because proactive community engagement in design is minimal.

This study finds that there is little work happening beyond mandatory consultation efforts, and that citizens are just invited to voice an opinion for plans that have already been proposed, rather than inviting them to truly get involved in the design process itself. Furthermore, there is little technological support to make community engagement wider and more meaningful.

This resource offers some recommendations for central government, for office for place, and for local governments. These are, respectively, to:

  • Amend national planning policy to make early and independent design review mandatory for all major developments (for central government).
  • Establish a national programme through which effective but efficient methods for engaging communities in design are developed and promoted (for office for place).
  • Consider establishing local community panels to engage citizens in an ongoing conversation about design quality (for local governments).

Analysis and recommendations are also offered for other aspects that can improve the design deficit, in relation to for example, training and recruitment.