Design Review Panel Terms of Reference

This page contains the Design Review Panel Terms of Reference, endorsed 29 June 2021.

1. Scope

This Procedure sets out the terms of reference for the operation of a Design Review Panel. The Panel is required to provide independent and impartial professional advice on design quality to the City.  

2. Purpose of design review

Design review, particularly when undertaken early has multiple benefits for a range of stakeholders including the delivery of quality development outcomes, a reduction in time and cost through early identification of issues, and increasing certainty for design teams through collaborative resolution of planning and design issues.  

Design review undertaken by suitably qualified and independent experts provides confidence and empowers decision makers to better meet the needs of the community. Design review can also support the City as a client, helping secure high-quality design.  

Wherever possible, proponents are encouraged to seek the advice of the Panel from the earliest possible stages of conceptual design. 

3. Role of the Design Review Panel

The role of the Panel is to provide independent and impartial professional advice on design quality to the Applicant and the City. 

The Panel may identify and recommend improvements required to achieve a high quality of design within a development proposal, consistent with the stated requirements and objectives of the City’s Planning Framework. 

4. Matters to be considered by the Design Review Panel

The following matters may be referred to the Panel: 

  • Development Applications valued at $2 million and over excluding: 
    • Single House applications
    • Grouped Dwelling applications
    • Warehouse applications
    • Where located within the Industry Zone unless referred to the Panel by the Manager Development Services
    • Where located within the Service Station Zone unless referred to the Panel by the Manager Development Services. 
  • Multiple Dwelling Applications equal to or greater than 10 dwellings
  • Preliminary development proposals located within the City where referred by the Manager Development Services
  • Local Development Plans
  • Structure Plans
  • Activity Centre Plans
  • Any proposed relevant Local Planning Scheme amendment or Local Planning Policy (including design guidelines) where referred by the Director Planning and Development
  • Any proposed Development Application which requires the exercise of judgement where referred by the Manager Development Services
  • Any City Project where referred by a member of the Executive Team. 

The meeting agenda including attachments (plans, supporting information, and an assessment against the City’s planning framework shall be provided to the Panel members by the nominated officer at least one week before the meeting date. 

5. Membership Expertise

Panel membership will be sought via public expressions of interest and the appointment of members endorsed by Council.  

The Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Panel shall be appointed by Council. 

A person who is currently employed by, or who is an Elected Member of the City, is not eligible for appointment as a member of the Panel. 

A Design Review Panel meeting shall comprise a maximum of 5 members with a Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and three other panel members.  

A Design Review Panel meeting may not proceed unless a quorum comprising a minimum of three members is present. 

The Panel will be multi-disciplinary. Council shall appoint a maximum of 18 members to ensure appropriate expertise can be obtained. Members will have appropriate qualifications and substantial experience in one or more of the following nominated areas: 

  • Architecture 

  • Heritage 

  • Landscape Architecture 

  • Planning  

  • Sustainability and Environmental Design 

  • Urban Design 

Membership will be based on qualifications and experience. Members will have direct experience in design review or have extensive experience of design and delivery of complex development proposals. Other qualities of membership include: 

  • Ability to analyse, evaluate and report on complex design issues, 

  • Ability to work in a multi-disciplinary team, 

  • Possession of good written and verbal communication and negotiation skills.  

The term of office for a Panel member is to be two years and run concurrently with the Council election cycle.  

Panel members will be appointed following the completion of an expression of interest process. Prospective members will be highly regarded within their field and will be endorsed by two professional referees (independent professional peers) who can attest in writing to the suitability of the candidate for membership of the Panel.   

The City may terminate the appointment of any member of the Panel prior to the expiry of the term of office, if it is considered that the member is not providing a positive contribution to the intended function of the Panel, or if the member has not demonstrated a satisfactory level of attendance at meetings.

6. Panel Chairperson

The appointed Chairperson will have extensive experience in design review and facilitation, and a proven ability to draw meaningful conclusions from the collective views expressed. 

The panel Chairperson is tasked with running panel meetings and is responsible for: 

  • liaising with local government staff about the operation of the panel, where required

  • ensuring new members have been inducted in conjunction with City officers and are briefed about panel operations

  • liaising with local government staff regarding design review preparation by: 

    • advising on expertise required for each review
    • requesting additional sitting members where required
    • advising on any additional briefing material that may be required. 
  • ensuring that the meeting agenda is followed, and time is well-managed

  • chairing the panel meeting in a professional manner

  • welcoming and introducing the panel, proponents and any observers present in the meeting

  • facilitating interactive discussion and the participation of all design review panel members, key local government attendees and proponents, enabling solutions to be brokered collaboratively

  • ensuring that discussions remain focussed on the application being considered and that advice relates to matters covered by the relevant State and local policies and schemes

  • clearly synthesising and summarising the consensus view of the panel at the conclusion of the meeting

  • endorsing the final design review report post meeting

  • briefing decision-makers (local government councils, Development Assessment Panels and State Administrative Tribunal members) on panel advice when required by the City. 

7. Panel Members

Panel members are required to: 

  • Provide independent, fair, and reasonable professional advice relative to the relevant State and local policies and schemes

  • Treat all discussions and information about applications with sensitivity and confidentiality

  • Respond to and comment on material presented, providing clear and constructive feedback

  • Disclose any conflicts of interest for the record. Where a pecuniary interest exists, the member must: 

    • disclose the interest to the Chairperson as soon as practical, and preferably before the meeting to ensure there is a quorum for all items
    • Leave the meeting for the duration of the discussion for the particular item. 

Pecuniary interests will be recorded in Panel meeting Notes. 

8. Consideration of the Panel

Early engagement with the Design Review process is encouraged. This engagement, and any subsequent feedback, will be provided by relevant officers within 10 working days following the meeting. Pre-application engagement with the design review process has the ability to deliver more certain outcomes and will assist in the delivery of design quality.  

The onus is on the Panel to identify key design issues at the outset. Amendments by proponents in response to feedback provided may be further reviewed in light of the initial issues raised.

Where an application has already been submitted prior to referral to the Panel, the City’s assessment against the City’s Planning Framework will be provided the Panel as part of the agenda preparation process.  

Proponents will be invited to attend the Panel meeting to engage in the process of design review, present an overview of the development to Panel members, and respond to any questions raised. Proponents will subsequently be provided with the minutes of the meeting within 10 working days.  

In the context of a formal referral to the Panel, the views expressed, and recommendations reached will be outlined in any formal report prepared by the City (Council Report, Responsible Authority Report). The Panel meeting notes will also be provided as an attachment for consideration by the decision maker.   

The Manager Development Services, will determine the timing and agenda of the meetings. Referral to the Panel may not be deemed necessary if a development is incapable of approval under the City’s Planning Framework.   

All formal communication with the Panel will be facilitated by the Manager Development Services, who will liaise directly with the Chairperson. Communication between Panel members and proponents in respect of a development proposal under consideration is only to occur at a Panel meeting. No communication between Panel Members and the Proponent in respect to a proposal is to occur outside of Panel meetings. 

The panel Chairperson will conduct the meeting in accordance with the agenda, following the meeting format outlined below. The recommended meeting duration for each item is 50 minutes, including a briefing. A longer duration can be allowed for complex projects. The format for discussion of individual items includes:  

1. Panel briefing (based on information available) by the City’s Planning Officers – 15 minutes  

  • Overview by City planning staff, with specific reference to: 

  • Compliance with the City’s Planning Framework

  • Context and character of site

  • Proposed built form and scale

  • Proposed amenity and any amenity impact on existing locality

  • Internal referral comments (e.g. heritage, stormwater, traffic/parking)

  • Briefings from relevant State Government agencies also invited to attend the meeting

  • Panel pre-review discussion determining key questions to ask / key issues to raise. 

2. Welcome and Introductions - 5 minutes 

  • Proponents are invited into the meeting room. Chairperson welcomes them and introduces the panel. Panel coordinator assists with proponent setup. 

  • Recording of any interests. 

3. Proponent presentation - 10 minutes 

  • Client provides their vision for the project. 

  • Design team presentation, explaining the project background and outlining how the proposal addresses the City’s Planning Framework.  

4. Panel questions and clarifications - 5 minutes 

  • Panel members are able to seek clarification on any points.  

5. Panel discussion - 10 minutes 

  • Chairperson invites panel members to provide individual comment on the proposal

  • Discussion. 

6. Confirmation of advice/recommendations - 5 minutes 

  • Chairperson summarises panel comments, confirms advice and recommendations

  • Chairperson thanks the proponent for participation. 

10. Panel Report

The Panel will produce a recommendation report based on the 10 Design Principles contained within State Planning Policy 7.0 – Design of the Built Environment.  

The Design Principles subject to comment are: 

  1. Context and Character 
  2. Landscape Quality 
  3. Built form and scale 
  4. Functionality and build quality 
  5. Sustainability 
  6. Amenity 
  7. Legibility 
  8. Safety 
  9. Community 
  10. Aesthetics.  

Each Design Principle will be discussed and graded in the following way: 

 Design Principle satisfied 

 Design Principle pending further attention 

 Design Principle not satisfied 

Specific comments will be provided against each design principle for proponents to consider.  

Each Panel report will be complied in the following way: 

  • Compiled as a draft during the meeting, using the template provided electronically with projection, to enable the intent of recommendations to be generally agreed at the meeting, 

  • Record conflicts of interest of panel members, 

  • Record key issues and panel recommendations, 

  • The Panel Report will be referred to the Chairperson for review and ratification, 

  • The ratified report will be provided to the proponent within 10 working days of the meeting.  

Panel Items relating to preliminary proposals (not including plans) and development applications (including plans) will be summarised and provided on the City’s website. Should a development application be presented to the Panel for comment on more than one occasion, the plans and panel summary for each panel discussion will be provided on the City’s website. This will enable the community to keep up to date with and see the benefit of design review and how the City’s design review process is assisting in improving built form outcomes across the City. 

Every proponent will be provided a copy of the panel minutes to assist in the development of the design right through from the preliminary proposal process and development application. 

For formal applications the Panel’s advice is to be incorporated as part of the officer assessment, report and recommendation on the proposal, and attached in full to the assessment report requiring consideration by the determining authority. 

11. Recording of Panel Meetings

Administrative support will be provided by the City’s Development Services Business Unit to the Panel for each meeting convened. An Administration Officer will be responsible for taking the minutes in accordance with the attached template, Attachment 1.   

The Administration Officer will also be responsible for: 

  • Scheduling meetings

  • Corresponding with proponents

  • Arranging meeting times and proponent times for each panel meeting

  • Arranging catering

  • Formulating meeting agendas

  • Setting up IT equipment to ensure meetings can be conducted

  • Taking minutes at meetings

  • Arranging recommendation report

  • Liaising with City Staff and Chairperson regarding final minutes

  • Forwarding final minutes to panel members and proponents. 

Final minutes will be referred to the Chairperson for review and ratification. Once confirmation is received, minutes are to be forwarded to Panel members and the proponent.  

Minutes in respect of pre-application matters will not be made publicly available. Minutes from formal referrals will be published via the relevant reporting process (Council Reports or JDAP Reports).  

12. Frequency of Panel Meetings

Meetings will generally be held no more than once per fortnight but can be scheduled at any time in response to urgent matters. Advice of a scheduled meeting, the agenda and information associated with each proposal shall be provided to Panel members one week prior to the intended meeting date. 

13. Proponent Fees

The proponent fees associated with attendance for each meeting is outlined below.   



Up to two meetings 


Each subsequent meeting 


The City will issue an invoice to proponents which will be required to be paid prior to attendance at a meeting.  

14. Panel Member Fees

The members of the Panel shall be paid sitting fees for each meeting attended.   

Panel members are to be paid per hour for the duration of the design review meeting, plus one hour of preparation as per the schedule below. 

Hourly Schedule of Rates 




Panel Member 


The Chairperson will receive an above-standard fee due to the additional responsibility of the role, plus preparation, and time spent advising and editing reporting as needed. 

When a member of the Panel appears on the City’s behalf as an expert witness at the State Administrative Tribunal, the member is to be paid at a mutually agreed hourly rate consistent with the qualifications, experience and professional status of the member. 

The fees paid to each member shall be market tested annually to ensure the City can attract the required expertise to sit on the panel. 

15. Code of Conducts

All Panel members are required to abide by the City’s Code of Conduct.