FAQ's and Feedback

In the development of the Essex Design Guide we have undertaken engagement sessions to understand the key concerns and feedback from users of the guide.

A range of written feedback was received much of which praised the revised content and the approach taken with sport England specifically praising the piece as a national Exemplar and DCLG crediting the innovative approach and collaboration with the wider sector.

General Feedback 

Some constructive challenge and frequently asked questions are outlined below.

The following feedback was received by multiple parties and has been responded to as part of a generic response.

Feedback received Response and / or action Taken
There is a need for a transparent update process that LPA’s can contribute to at regular intervals to ensure content is up to date. A key benefit of the digital EDG is that it can be updated and revised to remain contemporary. Whilst Essex County Council has been commissioned by EPOA to undertake this update further revisions will be managed through a process owned by EPOA working group consisting of EPOA, the Essex Urban Design Network and ECC Highways and SuDS teams), and approved through EPOA.

It is proposed that a review is undertaken approximately 6-months after publication (August / September 18) and thereafter a series of annual updates to address newly emerging issues and opportunities. Changes to link etc. can be changed instantaneously.
The engagement process was not long enough and / or did not provide sufficient scope for feedback. As stated above, this engagement process was intended to provide users of the EDG with an opportunity to review the content prior to publication and highlight any feedback for consideration either in this review or in future iterations. Major content revision, challenge and update has been undertaken by SME’s in each working group.

This engagement process was not intended as formal consultation leading to adoption of the EDG by all LPA’s. This approach was considered by the steering group and project team however was deemed unfeasible given then currently each LPA adopts some, all or none of the EDG.
Content formatting requires further development to be clearer to navigate. New content has been retrofitted to existing EDG text making the revised EDG difficult to navigate. Links between content should be flowing to give an easy-read on the website.  It is true this review has used original EDG text as the basis with this revised and updated to reflect the new themes developed in this review. The rationale for this is based on feedback at the start of the project which suggested that care should be taken not to lose the themes from the existing guide as in many cases these still hold true.

Each section of text has been extensively reviewed and re-written for the web. The structure is not clear from the PDF’s and admittedly the way these have been presented as part of the engagement process does not present the content in the best light. We anticipate that once added to the EDG website with functioning links etc. navigation will become clearer with further opportunities for review and update coming in 2018. 
This update has not focused on providing revised housing typologies as the current ones are outdated.  Housing types will be deleted in this update off the EDG as the ethos of the guide is less focused on providing specific example of ‘how to’ do design and the associated criticism of the previous EDG which some saw as promoting a particular typology. 
Images included in the draft content are outdated or still contains the same pastiche images of Essex.  Images and diagrams in the draft content are placeholders and new content is currently being developed / incorporated into the content. We will endeavour to complete this by the launch of the EDG however further updates and iterations may be necessary. 
Case Studies included in the draft content don’t follow a clear and / or logical template and would benefit from peer review with the use of more imagery.  Going forward case studies will follow a specific template on the following headings; Development title, architect, accommodation type, overview of development, how does it demonstrate key EDG principles.

The intention is that case studies featured on the website will be short and succinct with a small number of key images and links to the relevant architect and / or developer website. Using the contact link on the EDG website we are seeking suggestions of new / alterative case studies to create a rich resource library. 
It is not clear how LPA’s can adopt revised EDG content as policy when the content will be continuously updated?

Will the project support the adoption process of the EDG by LA’s.
In line with previous iterations of the Essex Design Guide it will be up to individual districts to adopt all or part of the 2018 guide as part of local policy. The process for this is to be agreed locally. The digital design guide will has given consideration to how districts may want to adopt as policy and will include paragraph numbered PDF’s of each section of text with a clear ‘last updated’ date as well as a district profile on the website which will be a space to identify which of the aspects of the guide have been adopted as policy locally and which are guidance. This can also be used to set out the adoption / consultation process the EDG has gone through. It is important that the most up to date version of the EDG is adopted and it would be advised that LPA’s build regular review and update into their adoption of the EDG. 
The design principles of the previous EDG have not been significantly updated in this version of the EDG.  The value of the EDG being formatted as a digital document it can be updated and revised quickly and effectively and therefore should there be appetite from planners to do so. Therefore should the consensus be that districts wish to revisit the fundamental principles then this can be raised via EPOA and managed through the update process. 
What opportunities are there for further discussion on the content?  Buy-in of all stakeholders / potential users will be critical to successful deployment of the EDG. Should an LPA be seeking further engagement or discussion on the updated content the project team would be happy to facilitate this. 
Specific examples of ‘good design’ practice have been lost in this version.  This version of the EDG has intentionally removed a number of specific examples / images of design from the previous versions of the EDG based on feedback it created ‘template communities’ which is opposed to the principles of ensuring that development is built in recognition of the local context. This EDG is intended to be a more collaborative piece between developers and LPA’s to enable them to agree how the themes in the EDG can be best implemented locally. To support this EDG provides case studies demonstrating how the themes identified in the guide can be delivered. 
Could examples of ‘poor practice’ be set out in the case studies section of the EDG? We have given consideration to this however recognising that we are seeking to encourage best quality development in Essex our priority is to ensure that examples of best practice are highlighted and promoted rather than criticising developers / development. Thusly the current case studies represent best practice ideas locally and nationally and in line with the ethos of this version of the EDG we have sought to identify schemes which encapsulate the principles outlined throughout the guide. We need support from LPA’s to identify relevant case studies of good development, in line with the EDG principles that has been built locally. These can be sent to essexdesignguide@essex.gov.uk 


Page updated: 11/02/2021

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