Community Review Panel 

What is happening in Dacorum?

There will be significant new development across Dacorum in the coming years, required to deliver much-needed housing. We're currently preparing our new Local Plan to guide development and change to 2036. Most of the growth will be in and around existing towns. Hemel Hempstead has been awarded Garden Town status by central Government, which creates an historic opportunity to transform the town with 11,000 new homes and 10,000 jobs.

We aspire to deliver this growth in a way that is inclusive and empowering to existing and new communities, maximises opportunities and enhances quality of life. To achieve this, it is essential to understand the views of people living, working and studying in Dacorum.

What is the Community Review Panel?

The Community Review Panel is one of the ways through which we plan to better understand the needs of the local community. The panel plays an independent, advisory role in Dacorum’s planning work, discussing issues including housing, transport, public and green spaces, and the environment. This will help ensure that new developments are of the highest possible design quality, and meet the needs of people living, working and studying in the area, now and in the future.

The panel meets once a month to discuss development proposals and give its views. Each of these discussions is turned into a formal report and feeds into decisions made by us. The panel’s recommendations are taken seriously as a formal part of the planning process.

Who is on the panel?

The Community Review Panel has 17 members, who are of all backgrounds and ages (18 or over), who know their local area and who want to positively influence its future. The members of the panel have a diverse range of skills, experience and knowledge.

The panellists were selected through a formal application process, where they demonstrated their:

  • strong understanding of the local area, the way it works, its history, its inhabitants, and local needs
  • ability to provide constructive advice, from a community perspective, on proposals for development and change, as well as the needs of existing residential and business communities
  • ability to make confident contributions in meetings
  • ability to collaborate and respect the contribution of others in panel discussions.

The panel is chaired by Tony Burton, a community engagement expert with over 25 years’ experience on the boards of major charities, and an extensive track record of working with local communities and volunteers seeking to influence their neighbourhoods.

The panel members are:

  • George Bull
  • Richard Dewhurst
  • Anna FitzPatrick
  • Quentin Halfyard
  • Cheryl Hall
  • John Kjorstad
  • Angela Lynch
  • Bethany Marchant-Roe
  • Carole Niven
  • Michael Ridley
  • Andrew Roberts
  • Max Smith
  • Joseph Stopps
  • Ky Teasdale
  • Zachary Thole
  • Jack Watford

How often does the panel meet?

One Community Review Panel meeting is provisionally scheduled every month on a Tuesday evening between 6.30pm and 8pm.

The following dates are currently set for panel meetings:

  • 6 December 2022
  • 17 January 2023
  • 7 February 2023
  • 7 March 2023
  • 4 April 2023
  • 2 May 2023
  • 6 June 2023
  • 4 July 2023
  • 5 September 2023
  • 3 October 2023
  • 7 November 2023
  • 5 December 2023

How is the panel managed?

Frame Projects is responsible for recruiting and managing the panel, to make sure that it is independent, properly briefed and able to effectively communicate its views to the Council. It will provide panel members with the support needed for their role through free training sessions. These might include help with reading plans and maps, understanding the basics of urban design and development proposals, or confidence in getting their views across in panel meetings.

Review reports

Reports of panel reviews are produced by Frame Projects and summarise the comments and advice provided by the panel and provide clear recommendations on the suitability of proposals to an area and the needs of its communities. Reports are used to inform pre-application design and discussions, and decision making by Dacorum Officers and Councillors.

The panel have reviewed 10 schemes in the 2020-2021 period. An example of two of these schemes that have been submitted for planning, and the panel’s comments, are available on the page links below (under "Design and Access Statement"):

Handbook

More information, including the panel’s terms of reference, can be found in the Community Review Handbook:

Expand all

  • Introduction

    There will be significant new development across Dacorum in the coming years, required to deliver the borough’s much-needed housing,  infrastructure and employment. We are currently preparing our new Local Plan to guide development and change to 2036. Most of the growth will be in and around existing towns. Hemel Hempstead has been awarded Garden Town status by central Government, which creates and historic opportunity to transform the town with 11,000 new homes and 10,000 jobs.

    We aspire to deliver this growth in a way that is inclusive and empowering to existing and new communities, maximises  opportunities and enhances quality of life. To achieve this, it is essential to understand the views of people living, working and studying in  Dacorum.

    Through the Community Review Panel, we want to give a voice to local people, in particular those who know their local area and who  want to have a say in the way it’s developed and regenerated. The vision is for a local community that is actively engaged in planning  for the future of the area, where all people have an opportunity to be involved and feel a sense of pride and ownership in the place. This is emphasised in the revised Sustainable Community Strategy, Destination Dacorum (2012), outlining our visiion of what the borough will be like in 2031, "a happy, healthy, prosperous and safe place in which  to live, work and enjoy".
  • Dacorum Borough

    Dacorum Borough covers 81 square miles of West Hertfordshire, extending north from the fringes of Watford to the Chiltern Hills. Sixty per cent of thearea is located within the Metropolitan Green Belt; 85 per cent of the borough comprises small hamlets located within rural land.

    Significant environmental constraints apply to the district’s small villages and hamlets located within the Green Belt and the rural areas. The aim is to protect their individual and distinctive characters, to maintain the openness of the green space, and to protect and enhance the natural and historic character of the landscape.

    The largest of three historic market towns, Hemel Hempstead, is a Mark One New Town designed by Geoffrey Jellicoe in the 1940s. The majority of the new growth is to be focused in and around Hemel Hempstead. The town centre and the Maylands Business Park are both designated as key regeneration areas.

    A key part of the growth is a new garden town, Hemel Garden Communities. This urban extension to Hemel Hempstead, on land split roughly equally between Dacorum and St Albans districts, will provide approximately 11,000 homes and 10,000 new jobs, as well as transformational benefits to the existing town of Hemel Hempstead.

    In addition to the new homes, new schools, a range of open spaces with community facilities, and upgrades to roads including Junction 8 of the M1 motorway and the Breakspear roundabout will be provided to support the increase in residents and businesses. Hemel Garden Communities will provide an opportunity for cross-boundary working with St Albans District Council and other South West Hertfordshire authorities, for both Dacorum Borough Council and the Community Review Panel.

    A Charter for the Hemel Garden Communities has been endorsed by Dacorum and St Albans. This sets out placemaking principles for creating a new garden town that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. The charter is divided into three key themes under which the placemaking principles sit. Together they set out new ways of living in, planning, and financing suburbs that meet the pressing issues of development at the periphery of towns in the 21st Century:

    • place and design
    • engagement
    • delivery

    The pressure for new housebuilding is high: Dacorum’s Local Housing Need is 1,025 homes per year through to 2036. Our Emerging Local Plan is currently being developed to ensure that the development and change will be well managed, to deliver balanced growth alongside much needed infrastructure.

  • Panel remit

    The Dacorum Community Review Panel has been established to support us in achieving  high-quality placemaking that reflects the priorities of local people.

    The panel performs a public role. However, the individuals in the panel do not perform a representative role, on behalf of a community group, for example. They are not required to have professional planning  skills or experience. They are appointed so that they can contribute their own personal experience  of living or working in the Dacorum area and the  surrounding neighbourhoods.

    The Community Review Panel will provide independent advice to us as a ‘critical friend’ to support the delivery of high-quality  development in Dacorum. The Community  Review Panel will review and comment on development proposals and strategic documents across the the borough – both those where Dacorum is the client or landowner, and also those brought forward by third party developers, where Dacorum is the planning authority but not the client or landowner.

    We are likely to refer schemes to the Community Review Panel at an early design stage to ensure that local priorities and concerns can inform the design process. Advice is likely to be most effective before a scheme becomes too fixed. Early engagement with the Community Review Panel will help test and understand the appropriateness of the proposals to the area and the needs of its communities.

    The panel considers significant development proposals in the Dacorum area. Significance is not necessarily only related to scale but may also fall into the following categories:

    Significance related to size or use, for example:

    • large buildings or groups of buildings
    • infrastructure projects such as bridges or transport hubs
    • large public realm proposals
    • masterplans, design codes or design guidance.

    Significance related to site, for example:

    • proposals affecting sensitive views
    • developments with a major impact on their context
    • schemes involving significant public investment

    Significant social infrastructure, for example:

    • schools or other education buildings
    • parks and open spaces
    • streets, cycle and footpaths
    • public buildings, for example libraries.

    As with normal pre-application procedure, review advice given before an application is submitted remains confidential, seen only by the applicant, the planning authority and any other stakeholder bodies that we have involved in the project.

    This encourages applicants to share proposals openly and honestly with the Community Review  Panel – and ensures that they receive the most  useful advice.

  • Independence and confidence

    The Dacorum Community Review Panel is facilitated on behalf of Dacorum Borough Council by Frame Projects, an external consultancy.

    The Council has appointed Frame Projects to manage the panel, to maintain its independence. This means that review meetings are arranged and managed by Frame Projects staff and the panel is  chaired, and the discussion managed, by Tony Burton, an expert in community engagement who is employed on a consultancy basis by  Frame Projects. All reports and formal recommendations are written by the Community Review Panel manager, and issued with the approval of  the chair, with no prior approval from Dacorum Borough Council.

    The process for managing the Community Review Panel, the appointment of panel members, including selection of the chair, and  the administration of meetings, are agreed in partnership with the Council.

    Community Review Panel members are required to keep confidential all information acquired in the course of their role in the panel, with the  exception of reports that are in the public domain. Further details are provided in the confidentiality procedure included  at Appendix A.

  • Conflicts of interest

    The Dacorum Community Review Panel is intended to provide a constructive forum for applicants and their project teams and Dacorum Borough Council  planning officers to understand the views of local people.

    In order to ensure the panel’s independence and professionalism, it is essential that panel members avoid any actual or perceived conflicts  of interest that may arise in relation to schemes considered during the meetings that they attend. Minimising the potential for conflicts of interest will be important to the impartiality of the panel.

    Panel members are asked to ensure that any possible conflicts of interest are identified before each meeting. From example, if a panel  member or a close relative is directly involved, has a financial interest in, or would directly benefit from a scheme or site being reviewed,  this may be a conflict of interest. Members should declare potential conflicts of interest to the Community Review Panel manager. This does  not include panel member’s homes, as the Community Review Panel has been set up to provide the perspective of local residents, among others.

    Appendix B contains more detail on what constitutes a conflict of interest. Meeting agendas provided in advance of reviews will include  information on the project and who is involved. When these are sent out, each panel member will be asked to check for any conflict of interest,  and to contact the Community Review Panel manager straight away if they believe that there is a conflict.

    In cases where there is a conflict, a panel member may be asked to step down from a review. In other cases, a declaration of interest may  be sufficient. If in any doubt at all, panel members should contact the Community Review Panel coordinator at Frame Projects, Joe Brennan - joe@frame-projects.co.uk - to discuss.

  • Freedom of information

    As a public authority, we are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act). All requests made to us for information, with regard to the Community Review Panel, will be handled according to the provisions of the Act. Legal advice may be required on a case by case basis to establish whether any exemptions apply under the Act.

  • Types of meeting

    Two types of Community Review Panel meeting are offered.

    • Community reviews
    • Governance and development sessions

    Community Reviews

    A Community Review Panel meeting will be held for major development proposals, masterplans,  significant planning policy or guidance documents. Meetings will take place for schemes  from outline design stage onwards, either at preapplication or application stage, so that the panel  can provide advice to the scheme promoter and to the Dacorum Borough Council.

    All members of the Community Review Panel, including the chair, will be invited to attend.  Dacorum officers and appropriate stakeholders / organisations may also be invited and asked  to give their views after the scheme has been presented.

    Community Review Panel meetings will usually take place at a stage when a client and design team have decided their preferred option for development of a site, and have sufficient  drawings, models, etc. for a comprehensive discussion. There may be a second pre-application  review to provide an opportunity for the panel to comment on more detailed design matters, before planning submission.

    The scheme will typically be presented by a member of the design team, normally the lead  architect, following a brief introduction by the client. Presentations may be made with drawings  and / or pdf or PowerPoint and models, as appropriate. At least one paper copy of the presentation should be provided, for ease of  reference during the panel discussion. Individuals, with professional expertise relevant to the topic of  the meeting, may be invited to provide facilitation or specific advice.

    A typical Community Review Panel meeting will last 120 minutes: 10 minutes of introductions; 10  minutes briefing by planning officers; 30 minutes presentation by the design team; 60 minutes  discussion; 10 minutes summing up by the chair.

    Governance and Development sessions

    To support the Community Review Panel’s role in the planning process, governance meetings  may be arranged to provide an opportunity for reflection among the panel on emerging themes  and issues. This would also be an appropriate forum for discussions to inform the development  of the panel after its initial one-year pilot.

    Governance meetings will be facilitated by the Community Review Panel chair, and all panel  members will be invited to attend.

    Training will be provided to equip the panel  members with the skills required to understand and constructively input to the review meetings.

    Development sessions may take a variety of formats, beginning with a panel induction  meeting, and with potential to provide training on other topics such as: sustainable design,  landscape design or more practical topics such as how to read and interrogate architectural  drawings. Topics will be identified with input from the panel members.

  • Site visits

    Dacorum Community Review Panel members are drawn from the local area, and so we anticipate that they will be familiar with the locations where development is proposed. Formal site visits will therefore not be arranged in advance of reviews, but the aim will be to circulate agendas a week in advance of each meeting, to allow panel members to visit the sites independently if they wish to do so.

  • Expenses

    Community Review Panel members are entitled to claim reasonable expenses for travel to review meetings, and for other costs incurred in order to attend meetings. Frame Projects will provide an expense form which should be completed and sent to the Community Review Panel manager, with receipts or other evidence of expenditure, before the date of the next panel meeting.

  • Briefing and training

    All Community Review Panel members are required to attend an induction meeting before taking part in review meetings. This includes briefings on the Dacorum Borough Council context, and on the schemes likely to be reviewed. It also includes a briefing on the panel’s role, how it will be governed, and on practical arrangements.

    Development sessions may be arranged for panel members - for example, on urban design and planning process, and professionals may be invited to contribute to these sessions. Occasionally, professionals may also be invited to attend Community Review Panel meetings to provide additional briefing and to ensure that the panel has all the information it requires.

    The induction meeting and governance meetings provide opportunities to discuss the wider needs of panel members, including training needs, to ensure that they can fulfil their roles effectively.

  • Review agendas

    Agendas will be issued to panel members in advance of each meeting. The agenda and its contents are confidential and should only be read by members of the panel.

    For Community Review Panel meetings, a detailed agenda will be provided that includes notes on the planning context, details of the project to be considered, the applicant and consultant team, and those presenting the project, as appropriate.

    A scheme description provided by those presenting to the panel will set out factual information about the project. Key plans and images will also be provided to help to give a sense of the scope and nature of the project under review.

    Where a project returns for a second or subsequent review, the report of the previous review will be provided with the agenda.

  • Review reports

    During a Community Review Panel meeting the panel manager, Frame Projects, will take notes of the discussion – to form the basis of a report. Reports will be drafted, approved by the panel chair and issued within 10 working days to only those individuals attending the meeting. This ensures that any panel members who are not attending a specific meeting due to a conflict of interest, will not receive a copy of that particular report. The report summarises the comments and advice provided by the Community Review Panel and clearly sets out specific recommendations.

    At pre-application stage, reports will provide clear advice on the appropriateness of the proposals to the area, and the needs of its communities. This may assist officers in negotiating improvements. The report at this stage is not normally made public and is shared only with us, the applicant and design team, and any other stakeholders that our officers have involved in the project.

    Once planning applications are submitted, the report may provide guidance to our officers in reviewing the planning application with regard to community views.

  • Review charges

    Applicants are referred to the Community Review Panel by us as an external service. They pay fees to Frame Projects for delivering this service.

    The charges for Community Review Panel meetings are reviewed every year. From 1 January 2022 the charge is:

    • £4,000 plus VAT Community Review Panel meeting
    • £2,500 plus VAT governance or development sessions.

    The cost of venue hire, if required, would be in addition to the charges above.

    Payment should be made by the applicant in advance of the review, and the review may be cancelled if payment is not received five days in advance of the meeting. Full details of payment will be provided when an invitation to present to the panel is confirmed.

    • 50 per cent of full cost: less than two weeks before scheduled review
    • £600 plus VAT: between one and four weeks before the review.
  • Key references
  • Appendix A

    Confidentiality

    The Dacorum Community Review Panel provides a forum for advice and guidance to be provided at an early stage in projects, before proposals are public, when advice can have the most impact.

    Confidentiality is therefore important.

    • Panel meetings are only to be attended by the panel’s members, Dacorum officers, and officers from stakeholder organisations involved in the project, as well as the applicant and their design team. If anyone else attends, it must be approved by the Community Review Panel manager.
    • Members of the Dacorum Community Review Panel will keep confidential all information provided to them as part to their role on the panel, and shall not use that information for their own benefit, nor disclose it to any third party (with the exception of reports that are in the public domain).
    • The Dacorum Community Review Panel’s advice is provided in the form of a report written by the panel manager, containing key points from the panel’s discussion. If any applicant, architect or agent approaches a panel member for advice on a project subject to review (before, during or after), they should decline to comment and refer the inquiry to the panel manager.
    • Following the meeting, the Community Review Panel manager writes a draft report, circulates it to the chair for comments and then makes any amendments. The panel manager will then distribute it to all those included on the meeting agenda.
    • As with normal pre-application procedure, review advice given before an application is submitted remains confidential, seen only by the applicant, the planning authority and any other stakeholder bodies that the council has involved in the project.
    • If a panel member wishes to share a final report with anyone, they must seek approval from the Community Review Panel manager, who will confirm whether or not the report is public.
  • Appendix B

    Conflicts of interest

    Following the selection of Community Review Panel members, each potential panel member will be asked to fill out a Declaration of Interest form. The form will identify if there are any conflicts which may preclude an individual's participation in the Community Review Panel.

    An individual may be conflicted from participating as a panel member if she/he has a financial, commercial or professional interest in Dacorum Borough Council.

    Once the panel is fully established, to ensure the integrity and impartiality of advice is given by the Dacorum Community Review Panel, potential conflicts of interest will be checked before each panel meeting. The following process will apply.

    • All panel members are required to declare any conflicts of interest.
    • Panel members are notified of the schemes coming before the panel at least one week in advance. At this time panel members should check the meeting information provided to them and contact the Community Review Panel manager if they have an interest in a project, or believe they have an interest. If in doubt, the Community Review Panel manager should be consulted.
    • The Community Review Panel manager, in collaboration with the panel chair and Dacorum officers, will determine if the conflict of interest is of a personal or prejudicial nature - that is, whether it will prevent the panel member from giving impartial advice.
    • A panel member may have a prejudicial interest in a proposal if she/he has: a financial, commercial or professional interest in a project that will be reviewed, its client and / or its site; a financial, commercial or professional interest in a site that is adjacent to the project (not including a panel member’s own home) that will be reviewed or upon which the project being reviewed will have a material impact; a personal relationship with an individual or group involved in the project, or a related project, where that relationship prevents the panel member from being objective.
    • If it is deemed that a conflict of interest is of a prejudicial nature, the panel member should not take part in reviews for the proposal. She/he should also not take part in private discussions of the project and should not be in the room during the discussions of the project.
    • If it is deemed that a conflict of interest is personal, but not prejudicial, the panel member may be allowed to participate in the review. In this situation, the interest will be noted at the beginning of the review, discussed with the presenting teams and formally recorded in the review report.
The handbook is also available to download:  Community Review Panel Handbook (PDF 7.7MB)Please note: This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. 

Further information 

If you have any queries or would like to be kept up to date with Community Review Panel news, please email dacorum@frame-projects.co.uk.