Design Quality Summit

Thursday 26 September 2019 - 14:30 to 17:30
Glenn Howells Architects, 321 Bradford Street, Birmingham, B5 6ET

This afternoon workshop 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.

Convened and chaired by Luke Hillson  Barton Willmore


  • Luke Hillson  Barton Willmore; West Midlands Urban Design Forum
  • Valentina Giordano  UCL; Place Alliance
  • Laura Alvarez + Nigel Turpin  Nottingham City Council
  • Kevin Parker  Redrow Homes
    REDROW 8
  • Louise Wyman  West Midlands Combined Authority
  • Nigel Longstaff  Barratt PLC, Group Urban Design Director
  • Glenn Howells  Glenn Howells Architects


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 isnt 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 placesthat enable users to sustain healthy,socially rich, economically productivelifestyles with minimal environmentalimpact.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 Redrows 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).

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. Shes seconded to WMCA from the Senior Leadership Team at Homes England where she co-founded the Strategy Performance & Delivery Unit. Louise set up Homes Englands 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. Nigels 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
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