Farrell Review is calling for a ‘revolution’ in the planning system: a new understanding of place-based planning and design

The Farrell Review, published March 31 2014, looks at the future of architecture and the built environment and is calling for a ‘revolution’ in the planning system to ensure it anticipates to the future needs of towns and cities.

Access the Farrell Review here

The review, led by Sir Terry Farrell, makes 60 recommendations including existing places to have a PLACE review (the key disciplines of planning, landscape, architecture, conservation and engineering). A wider concept of “place” is described as the key public activities of Politics, Life, Advocacy, Community and the Environment, again using the acronym to help as an organisational concept.

There are five cross-cutting themes which run throughout the Review:

1. A new understanding of place-based planning and design
2. A new level of connectedness between government departments, institutions, agencies, professions and the public
3. A new level of public engagement through education and outreach in every village, town and city, and volunteering enabled by information and communications technology
4. A commitment to making the ordinary better and to improving the everyday built environment
5. A sustainable and low-carbon future

Sir Terry Farrell said: ‘The issues covered by this Review are not of academic or specialist interest. They are relevant to some of the most pressing and important issues of our time like the shortage and affordability of housing; the urgent need to reduce our carbon emissions and the flooding crisis that recently afflicted so much of the country. Through proactive, rather than reactive, planning we can tackle these problems.

‘We have some of the best architects in the world in this country yet it is hard to see how this translates into the everyday experience in our towns and cities. Industry leaders and built environment professionals should connect to the everyday much more and focus on making the ordinary better, not just one-off exceptional projects.’

Culture minister Ed Vaizey, who commissioned the review, said: ‘I hope the five themes that run through the report will be the start of a dialogue within the industry about how the sector can build on its success and recognise the importance of architecture and design in all aspects of our lives.'

Education was one of the four main areas looked at in the Review which has reported to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and will inform policy decisions at the Department of Education (DfE).

The recommendations of the Farrell Review present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to place architecture and the built environment at the heart of teaching in primary and secondary schools in England. These could be implemented as early as September 2014, helping teachers to deliver the new National Curriculum, promoting regional and national opportunities to engage with architecture and the built environment, and setting the agenda for how we engage with PLACE in the context of formal education.

Learning through the architecture, urban design and open spaces of our towns and cities is a familiar topic in many schools, which have benefited over the past decade and more from the architecture education work of the regional architecture and built environment centres, including Open-City’s Architecture in Schools programme for primary and secondary schools that has reached more than 30,000 young people.

This in turn has led to the development of innovative resources and training modules – in partnership with organisations such as the GLA and London Grid for Learning – that have opened up new ways of teaching and learning. Building on the success of recent years, on strong teacher partnerships and with the backing of the Farrell Review, we want to strengthen the use of architecture and built environment learning in schools across England.

Cath Ranson, President of the RTPI, said: 'The Farrell Review is a vital contribution to fresh thinking around the concept of ‘PLACE’. There are 60 recommendations which the government and the built environment professions should study carefully. The RTPI particularly values the Farrell Review’s recognition of the need to properly fund planning and the call for genuine joined up working across government departments. We welcome the opportunity to work with the government and other stakeholders in taking forward the Farrell Review’s recommendations.'

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