Design Quality Summit

Thursday 26 September 2.30 - 5.30 pm

THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT - please contact if you would like to go on a wait list.

An afternoon workshop chaired by Luke Hillson (Barton Willmore) at the Digbeth studio of Glenn Howells Architects. This will begin with presentations on current leading Design Guidance, Codes and Assessment Systems; followed by workshop discussion on their effectiveness and impact, concluding with the steps that need to be undertaken to improve design quality.

  • Convenor  Luke Hillson, Barton Willmore; West Midlands Urban Design Forum
  • The Ladder of Place Quality  Valentina Giordano, UCL; Place Alliance
  • Nottingham Design Quality Framework  Laura Alvarez & Nigel Turpin, Nottingham City Council
  • Redrow 8  Kevin Parker, Redrow Homes
  • West MIdland Design Charter  Louise Wyman, West Midlands Combined Authority
  • Great Places  Nigel Longstaff, Group Urban design Director, Barratt PLC

Then stay around for Urban DesignFest...


   Introduction and Convenor

Luke Hillson is the Design Director at Barton Willmore (Birmingham). He is the chairperson of the West Midlands Urban Design Forum, Vice Chair of the RTPI West Midlands and a Built Environment Expert for the Design Council. He  has particular expertise in residential place-making and mixed-use developments.

The Need for the Design Quality Summit and Delivering Great Places…

  • Housing delivery is set to continue to grow whilst the overall level of design quality isn’t growing at the same rate. The delivery of great places needs to be a focus.
  • There is currently a wealth of various design documents, guidance and assessment criteria, but is it focussed, applicable or useful?
  • The summit will see key speakers present guidance well known to them and a facilitated workshop will investigate what really makes a great place and how they can be delivered.


   Local Authority Design Policies: the impact on design quality, latest research

Valentina Giordano is an urban designer with over 15 years' experience including professional consultancy, academic research and teaching. She is now a Research Fellow at the Bartlett School of Planning, where she manages the Place Alliance, a cross-sector collaborative alliance for place quality, chaired by Professor Matthew Carmona.

In her role as an independent researcher she has been working together with Professor Carmona and Place Alliance partners to deliver a research programme focussed on generating a base line of knowledge about the quality of the built environment and its delivery.

Place value is generated by places that enable users to sustain healthy, socially rich, economically productive lifestyles with minimal environmental impact. The Ladder of Place Quality is a simple tool for decision-makers to use when considering: are we making a great place?


   Nottingham Design Quality Framework

Laura Alvarez is a Senior Principal Urban Design and Conservation Officer at Nottingham City Council, where she is developing the Design Quality Framework for the City. She has an active role in co-running the Urban Room.

Her 25 years of work in practice include consultancy for the award winning Trent Basin scheme in Nottingham. She also assisted local and regional authorities reviewing the design of residential developments, recently supporting Redrow Homes in the development of their Placemaking Guide.

Laura is also a qualified Community Organiser and has worked closely with local groups and residents designing innovative ways of bottom up engagement and co-design. She co-runs alkiki, a CIC dedicated to help communities and authorities in need of built environment resources and skills.


   Redrow 8 

As Redrow’s Group Masterplanning Director Kevin Parker has led on the launch of a new internal placemaking manual called “Designing a Better Way to Live” which sets out a set of 8 measureable principles (the ‘Redrow 8’).

Redrow 8

Provides a focus for discussions on the things that matter most to placemaking: clearly articulate our vision for new places; positive and early discussions with stakeholders; creating great places for our customers; and enhanced values and sales rates.

This is bottom-up, customer-focussed urban design which starts with consideration of the home and the needs of the residents first, then the street and then the neighbourhood to create responsive, vibrant places with a strong sense of community.

Redrow are using the measureable principles to guide all emerging designs as well as to audit completed developments. The scoring system allows for ‘barriers’ to be recorded where a principle could not be delivered as a result of a third party.


   West Midland Design Charter 

Louise Wyman is Design Lead for West Midlands Combined Authority and Mayor Andy Street and a member of the National Infrastructure Commission Design Group. She’s seconded to WMCA from the Senior Leadership Team at Homes England where she co-founded the Strategy Performance & Delivery Unit. Louise set up Homes England’s market engagement and strategic growth functions and led on future design ambition; establishing strategic partnerships with Combined Authorities, Design Council, RIBA, RTPI and LI.

As a Planning Committee Member for London Legacy Development Corporation and a former Executive Director of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, Louise leads teams that deliver projects of national significance. She set up the Garden Towns & Villages programme across Government in 2016 and has overseen delivery of the Oxford Cambridge Arc since 2017. She is also an Ambassador for Harvard University, supporting the exchange of design and development innovation between academia and industry.


   Great Places

Nigel Longstaff joined Barratt Developments back in 2008 to manage their Urban Design department. In 2009 he was tasked with introducing their own design initiative initially called Q17. Great Places was introduced 5 years later, which aligns with the government endorsed Building for Life 12. Nigel’s role has now extended to facilitating and on-going series of layout reviews across the Barratt Group that focuses on placemaking and efficiency. In 2017 he introduced the plotting books to the business, a best practice document that provides clarity on the design process but also the function of the ranges available to the internal and external designers.

The focus of the presentation will be on the various tools that Barratt now use to promote design and placemaking. This will be from the first launch of Q17 in 2009, based on Building for Life 20, through to how the industry has changed and the factors that can influence it.




Barratt Developments

Bartlett School of Planning

Barton Willmore


Boyle + Summers

CPRE Herts


Define Planning & Design Ltd

Edge Urban Design

Graham Paul Smith Urban Design

Glenn Howells Architects

Historic England

Housing Supply and Planning Directorate


Lambert Smith Hampton

Neil Williamson Associates



Place Alliance

Plymouth City Council


Richborough Estates

rtu. Rob Thompson Urbanism

South Downs National Park

The Bishop Street Consultancy

TheUrbanGlow Design & Heritage

Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design

Urban Imprint

Urban Movement

Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government Ireland

Downley Parish Council

Dudley Council

East Devon District Council

East Herts District Council

Greater Cambridge Shared Planning

London Borough of Sutton

Norwich City Council

Nottingham City Council

Plymouth City Council

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

West Yorkshire Combined Authority