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Comisiwn Dylunio Cymru Design Commission for Wales. Urban conservation and urban design in Wales: The perspective of DCFW. John Punter, Professor of Urban Design, CPLAN, Cardiff University Director and Chair of Design Review, DCFW. 4th Fl. Building II, Caspian Point,

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Comisiwn Dylunio Cymru

Design Commission for Wales

Urban conservation and urban design in Wales:

The perspective of DCFW

John Punter, Professor of Urban Design, CPLAN, Cardiff University

Director and Chair of Design Review, DCFW

4th Fl. Building II, Caspian Point,

Caspian Way, Cardiff Bay, CF10 4DQ

T: 029 2045 1964 F: 029 2045 1958

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The role of DCFW

Established by the Assembly in 2002:

  • To champion high design standards

  • To promote best practice in sustainable development

  • To promote equal opportunity/ social inclusion alongside

  • To promote design excellence in day-to- day

    developments as well as prestige projects

    Roles include:

  • design review of selected projects

  • advice to WAG, NHS Estates, LPAs and developers

  • skill development and coordination (LPA training)

  • research and monitoring

  • education at all levels—primary to professional

  • procurement advice

  • LPA support

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DCFW design review150 projects since 2003

  • 23 design experts, competitive interviews, cross-professional, rotated, unpaid, monthly meeting

  • All projects which LPA, developer, community, or WAG want us to see: everyday to the iconic

  • Offer verbal advice through dialogue and written report with recommendation

  • Authoritative but non-statutory

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The importance of good design

Good design is about much more than external appearance and aesthetics

Well designed developments:

  • Perform their functions well

  • Long lasting and adaptable

  • Respond well to site/context

  • Create delight for users/locals

  • Are energy/resource efficient,

    low carbon, accessible,

  • minimise envt. impact

    (see PPW and TAN12)

    The value of good design

  • Good design adds value to the proposed development and to the place where it is located

  • Good design does not have to cost more, it will often save money: the best design will cost more at the outset but will repay the investment many times

  • Mediocre design is poor economics and environmentally negligent

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Urban design and urban conservation

  • Urban design principles are key to successful planning/development control

  • Principles underpinned by a conservation ethos

    Character and context (local distinctiveness) natural heritage, continuity and enclosure, variety and diversity, compactness, legibility, accessibility, public realm, adaptability, resource efficiency (TAN 12/POSW Guide)

  • ..Urban design and conservation are essential components of an effective planning system. They have the common objective of delivering high quality, locally distinct and valued built environments…good conservation ensures that important buildings and spaces continue to have a contemporary relevance and vitality. Good urban design learns from the past and respects it in developing policies and proposals for new building and refurbishment and for the enhancement of the public realm (CABE/EH/POS 2003)

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Conservation contexts; design conundrums

  • City centres and high rise: Cardiff and Newport

  • Town centre retail: Wrexham, Carmarthen, Cardigan, Pontypridd,

  • Urban design strategies: Caernarvon, Abergavenny, Swansea

  • Public realm: Abergavenny, Caernarvon

  • Conservation area infill: Criccieth, Holywell, Llanwrst

  • Listed buildings: Coal Exchange, Cardiff Castle

  • Suburban intensification: Ridge Way Rd Newport, Whitchurch CF14

  • Edge city: Dragon Studios, WIBP, Brynmawr,

  • Rural settlements: Bethlehem

  • Edge City: Dragon Studios, WIBP

  • DCFW is concerned to conserve the distinctiveness and ensure the sustainability of the built environment everywhere in Wales?

  • What can it achieve? (it is not infallible!)

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Cardiff city centre


Central Hotel

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Major Town Centre Retail

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Townscape Heritage Initiative

Shop front restoration


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Riverfront elevation

Angharad Walk Pontypridd: Fifth attempt since 2000

Angharad Park vs conservation area

Taff St elevation

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Urban design strategies

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Abergavenny Cattle Market

Asda in-town: Conservation Area edge

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New Street Mold

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Coal Exchange, Cardiff Bay

3rd floor plan

West elevation

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Cardiff Castle:

restoration & visitor centre

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Suburban Intensification

Pegasus Apartments,

Church Road, Cardiff

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Redrow Apartments, Porthcawl

Ridgeway Park Road, Newport

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Villages and hamlets

Bethlehem, edge of BBNP

Little Haven

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Edge City

Dragon Studios

Jct 35a M4


Jct 33, M4


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Some conclusions

Questions we ask of planning, urban design and development control

  • Has conservation been downgraded as a national/LPA priority?

  • Where are the proactive conservation strategies?

  • Where are the THF bids and matching funds?

  • Where are the watchers in the fields? CAACs?

  • What percentage of CAs have been assessed and how well?

  • Are there trained conservationists in DC? What is their workload? Can they impact?

  • The new challenges of scale and height

  • The complexity of compromise

  • Can policy and DC wrest back control?

  • Why don’t CADW and DCFW work more closely together?