Mr R Kidd (Project Manager (Area Lead - Infrastructure)) was in attendance for this item
(1) Mr Smith and Mr Kidd introduced the report which set out the activity underway to raise the quality of design in Kent’s built environment. The report also addressed how the activity responded to the government’s proposed planning reforms in relation to design. He then presented and navigated through the Kent Design Guide website and explained each detail of the website to the committee.
(2) Mr Kidd then responded to a number of comments and questions from members of the committee, including the following:
a) Mr Kidd explained some of the significant challenges faced in relation to developers and the volume and quality of new-build houses. He said that the government’s white paper on planning reform would positively affect design and construction during all stages and that very robust responses to government on planning matters would continue.
b) In response to a question, Mr Kidd referred to the design guide’s timescales and said that whilst there was still a significant amount of technical detail to explore, he was confident that the programme would be met. He added that colleagues in Infrastructure continued to work hard to develop the site as quickly as possible and to ensure that all of the technical guidance was uploaded to the website.
c)In response to a question, Mr Kidd referred to some of the poorer-quality new-builds in the county and said there was an opportunity for Infrastructure to liaise with district and borough councils in relation to the adoption of the guide and to look to improve their own design guidance at their local level. He said that whilst the quality of transparency of design guidance between districts and borough councils would differ, the government’s paper on planning reform would assist in supporting Kent’s aspirations to make the design guide as effective, robust, and well-supported as possible.
d) In response to a question, Mr Kidd referred to issues which related to permitted development rights and said that more information on the matter would be provided within government’s white paper on planning reform. He briefly talked about the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on town centres and the retail sector and how the traditional retail of town centres took a different form and operated online.
(3) RESOLVED that the report be noted.