Join our Black Country Panel

Help us build a 21st century garden city in the West Midlands

The Black Country LEP is seeking built environment experts to join an assessment panel for its Black Country Garden City initiative, which will be managed by DSE.  People with a wide range of skills and experience are needed including architecture (particularly housing design), landscape architecture, ecology, urban design, planning, engineering, highways and street design, public health and sustainability. A connection to, and/or enthusiasm for, the Black Country will be an advantage.

The Black Country Garden City is an ambitious initiative to increase the quantity and raise the quality of new housing in the Black Country. Promoted by the Black Country LEP and supported by the four local authorities of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton as well as housebuilders in the private and social sectors, it sees the Black Country as a new type of 21st century garden city, based on the transformation of an existing urban area, rather than a new settlement in the countryside. The idea for Black Country Garden City came from DSE’s Head of Design Advice, David Tittle when he was working for MADE in Birmingham. He gathered together a group of professionals who through a series of open studios, worked up the concept and submitted it for the Wolfson Prize.

As part of the initiative the Black Country LEP is developing an accreditation system for new housing developments. It wants to designate the best new housing schemes in the area as Black Country Garden City Developments.  Accreditation will get new developments noticed, by the media and the public. It can be used in their marketing. It will provoke discussion and raise aspirations.

Accreditation will be carried out by a panel of experts, assessing schemes against 10 Black Country Garden City Principles. This is not a design review panel, initially its only role is assessment, but the role of the panel may evolve and panel members may be asked to provide advice and support to the Garden City initiative in other ways. An honorarium will be paid for attending panel meetings.

D:SE is recruiting and managing the panel on behalf of the LEP. For an application pack please contact or call 01634 401166.  The deadline for applications is 4th September 2017.



Urban Design Autumn School with UCA

Organised by Design South East and the MA Urban Design course at UCA Canterbury, this year’s Urban Design Autumn School will be based at the Turner Contemporary in Margate. Confronting development pressures across Kent, and leading on from last year’s theme ‘Growing the City: Designing the Urban Edge’ this Autumn School will explore how intensification could help activate underused town centres and reduce development pressure on the greenbelt. We will use Margate as a test bed for ideas, considering how new development can be positively integrated into the existing urban fabric, and how this can help provide successful public spaces.

Through the 2-day programme this KENT DESIGN event will introduce you to creating well designed, well connected and sustainable places. Participants will work in small groups, with each taking an individual site spanning from the seafront towards the town centre periphery. Each group will be mentored by leading urban design practitioners, there to help you in developing your own design proposals. This will take into account specific issues faced by Margate based on the recent increase in demand for development associated with the upturn in the creative industries, the technology sector and tourism. Although the distinctive historic fabric of the town is relatively intact, decades of neglect and insensitive development have created a series of holes in the town centre. This workshop will focus on strategies to stitch these areas back into the fabric of the town centre, considering issues such as the potential to improve connectivity between currently severed locations, and the activation of underused public spaces.

Download a copy of the Autumn school_Margate_Programme

For more information please visit

Kent Design members can email to book free and subsidised places. Please check with you KD representative prior to booking your place.



Kent Design Roundtable: responding to fixing our broken housing market


On Tuesday 13th June 2017, a group of Kent Design members including heads of planning from local authorities, housebuilders, architects and consultants met at the Maidstone Museum for a roundtable discussion to ask how far proposals in the … [Continue reading]

Mountfield Park wins Best New Neighbourhood Award


We are pleased to report that Mountfield Park is one of this year's winners at the Housing Design Awards. Designed by award-winning architects Proctor & Matthews, this development has been designed for 21st Century lifestyles, with the first … [Continue reading]

Our recent Kent Design Study Tour in South East London


Held on 6th July 2017, this study tour took a group of Kent Design members and additional ticket holders to visit a series of site across South East London. The tour focused on a range of prefabrication systems, from the CLT system used at the TNG … [Continue reading]

David Lock Associates launch website ‘MK50 Trees’

Tree logo square

As part of Milton Keynes reaching its 50th birthday this year, David Lock Associates has created a special website to help mark the occasion, dedicated to the beautiful trees in the Borough. The ‘New City’ of Milton Keynes boasts over 5,000 acres … [Continue reading]

Design Review: A guide for developers, consultants and designers

Brick houses, Horsted Park, Chatham, Kent

This design guide is for all those on the ‘applicant’ side of the development and planning process; landowners, developers, consultants, architects and other designers. It explains how design review works and how to get the most from it. Download … [Continue reading]

Design Review: A guide for local authorities

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This design review guide is suited to those who are on the local planning authority side of the development and planning process, including development management case officers, planning policy officers, specialist officers such as conservation or … [Continue reading]

Kent Design Masterclass: Design Codes – 11th July

Design Codes programme cover 2

Controlling quality and embedding character are key challenges facing the design of any new development. Design Codes are one of the best tools for doing this, yet they remain a rarity in the English planning system. We feel this is a missed … [Continue reading]

Kent Design Study Tour: 6th July 2017


Off-site construction is increasingly challenging traditional practices in the design and construction industry. From modular systems, to more flexible prefabricated frames, there are a wide range of applications that have been used to create some of … [Continue reading]