New EIA Regs in Effect

Today, on the 16th May 2017, the new EIA Regulations come in to effect.

For all those involved in the production and co-ordination of technical chapters, this is likely to lead to a period of ‘bedding in’ when Planners (on both sides of the fence) work out what is needed, when and in what format.

We shall leave the technical people to their thing, as we at Planit ponder a somewhat less predictable outcome… what impacts will the changes have on the DESIGN process?

In a nutshell (and you can all read the numerous Planning Consultancies briefing notes at your leisure!) prospective applicants will need to submit more detailed information – earlier….

This is supposed to lead to less ‘marginal’ projects having to go through the full EIA process, but for designers, it also means we may be pushed to look at detail, before we have finished the sketches on the drawing board.

Here at Planit, through the combined skills of our Urban Designers, Landscape Architects and Architectural Visualisers we have been honing our skills in the production of Townscape and Visual Impact Assessments (TVIA’s) and Verified Views over many years. We always feel that, unlike the great majority of other ‘technical’ disciplines, we have a foot in both camps.

Our wider work talks about place; grain; fit; colour and texture. Whilst intended primarily for assessment purposes, our emerging views now tend to be used by the design team to refine designs; change cladding; explore the behaviour of light and shade. But what if we always started the conversation much earlier – perhaps even before sites are even purchased?

For us, assessment and design are not mutually exclusive – and so, to the rub of the whole point of an EIA. It’s not about testing when it’s too late or post-rationalising a design that has a locked-down cost plan, it’s about pro-active collaborative design development, where problems are designed out, not mitigated after the fact.

So, before you begin the sketches for the next tower on your city’s skyline, or contextual addition to a Conservation Area, bear us in mind. After all, we are designers first and foremost and we believe that collaboration can begin with a white-rendered volume dropped in to a city model, just as much as it can around a drawing board with a roll of tracing paper.

Written by Pete Swift, Managing Partner