Since 1999, Cabe has provided expert design consultation, Design Review and training. We’ve collaborated extensively with different clients, including developers, planners, design teams, NHS trusts, local authorities and the communities they serve. We’ve established a unique, impartial understanding of the issues our clients face.

Our skilled, professional team works with our nationwide, cross-sector network of Built Environment Experts to offer support in delivering sustainable places where people want to live and work.

Our expertise range from housing and office developments to nationally significant infrastructure projects and neighbourhood planning support, landscape design, healthcare, procurement, public space strategy and sustainable urban design.

Cabe has been extraordinarily influential in the betterment of architecture in the UK for a long time.

Rafael Vinoly



City of Oxford

Cities are the powerhouses of the UK economy, and are key to the country’s long-term growth and success.

In response to City Deals, Design Council has developed a comprehensive design service for city authorities that brings together local knowledge and world-class expertise to help deliver high-quality, prosperous places.

Our integrated and bespoke city service provides early-stage design support, review and training. We engage city officers, elected members, developers, investors and key stakeholders to build expertise and confidence to effectively deliver sustainable economic growth.

This comprehensive service delivers continuous and long-term effective support to cities, City Deals and Strategic Economic Plans.

I encourage cities across the country to look at how they could use the Design Council’s new cities programme.

Greg Clark, Minister for Science, Universities and Cities - October 2014


We work with local authorities across the country to help create better quality, prosperous places. We work at every scale, from helping communities on their neighbourhood plans to nationally significant projects including London 2012, Crossrail and the new Thames Tideway Tunnel.

  • Multidisciplinary design panels selected to meet the specific needs of each city.
  • Design support and review throughout the early stage design and planning process.
  • Strategic specialist expertise to assist in the shaping of policy.
  • Expert advice to maximise the impact of policy implementation.
  • Training to build capacity, knowledge and expertise within the Local Planning Authority.
  • Building a database of knowledge to inform continuous improvement of services for the benefit of the city.


Design Review


Design Review is an independent, impartial process for evaluating the design quality of significant schemes that will have an impact on their environment and the town, cityscape, or public space around them.

The importance of Design Review is specifically highlighted in the National Planning Policy Framework.

Cabe Design Review is managed by an experienced professional team with the input of a panel of multi-disciplinary built environment experts. They assess the design quality of a proposal, offering constructive critical advice to ensure that good quality design is at the core of the proposal.

Since the panel was established in 1999, it has offered advice on more than 3,500 strategic projects across England.

Our impartial process offers designers and clients invaluable feedback from fellow professionals. It guarantees developers the best possible independent advice – reducing risk and expense by identifying weaknesses early on, or giving confidence that the design is on the right track.

The process is managed to the high standard established in The 10 principles of Design Review.


For information on pricing to suit your project, please contact Thomas Bender, below. 


Design Review showcase

The tile of the main showcase

  1. Masterplans


    Kings Cross Central

    King’s Cross Central is one of Europe’s largest urban regeneration projects. The 24 hectare site is bordered by the new high-speed line to the Eurotunnel and bisected by Regent’s Canal.

    The masterplan sets out a framework for the incremental development of a diverse mix of uses, embedded in one of UK’s most significant industrial heritage sites. A network of public open spaces – streets, lanes, squares and parks permeate the urban blocks and make connections beyond the site.

    Cabe offered our congratulations to the design team and client on the impressive development of this masterplan. 

    Download the Kings Cross Masterplan Design Review letter (.pdf)

     Image: Granary Square ©Allies and Morrison

    Battersea Power Station

    The masterplan for the Battersea Power Station – a Grade-II listed former electric power plant in London on the River Thames – aimed to create a mixed-use 38-acre sustainable development, offering commercial and retail functions as well as residential, cultural, and event spaces. These spaces would be interspersed with community facilities and a zero-carbon energy plant for the adaptive reuse of the power station itself.

    The historic structure of the power station functions as the focal point of the site’s regeneration, which aims to create a self-sufficient and vibrant new community, including 3,611 homes.

    Download the Battersea Power Station Masterplan Design Review letter (.pdf)

     Image: Battersea Power Station ©Rafael Viñoly Architects

    North-Bicester eco-town

    The development of an eco-town in North West Bicester sets ambitious goals for a new sustainable community. Cabe’s Design Review panel was involved since the early stages of the masterplan in 2010, raising design ambitions and ensuring that the vision and execution of the project set an exemplary standard for a new kind of eco-development.

    “Design Review challenged the thinking and led to improvements to the emerging masterplan.”

    – Jenny Barker, Cherwell District Council, Client team

    Cabe think that the environmental aspirations appear appropriate for an eco-town proposal. The local authority needs to ensure that the proposed standards will be achieved and delivered on time.

    To find out more information about our involvement in Bicester’s eco-town please read our case study.

    Download the North-Bicester eco-town Masterplan Design Review letter (.pdf)

     Image: North-Bicester eco-town ©Farrells Architects

    Fleet Marston, Aylesbury

    The new development at Fleet Marston will provide over 3,000 new homes, shops, a school, community space, doctors surgery, gym and recycling facilities.

    The designs reflect the local character of the area, express the multi-layered history of the site and provide a distinctive local character.

    Cabe believes this is a well-designed masterplan with the potential to create a successful new community. 

    Download the Fleet Marston, Aylesbury Masterplan Design Review letter (.pdf)

     Image: Fleet Marston, Aylesbury ©Adam Architecture

  2. Infrastructure


    Stockton-On-Tees biomass power plant

    Heatherwick Studio designed a biomass-fuelled power station to provide heat and electricity for new homes in Stockton and Middlesbrough. This project celebrates and connects with the area’s industrial heritage. In an area affected by the decline of the heavy industry, it also creates jobs and facilities for the local community.

    The proposed building is a structure to be proud of for people on both sides of the Tees, both for its exciting architecture and for the fact that it generates renewable energy. Cabe supported its creative approach to designing a piece of infrastructure and admired the way it raises above the brownfield landscape.

    Download the Teesside Power Station Design Review letter (.pdf)

    Image: Stockton-On-Tees biomass power plant ©Heatherwick Studio

    Thames Tideway Tunnel

    The Thames Tideway Tunnel is a major new infrastructure project for London; its urgent need is required to protect the Thames river ways from pollution.

    The project builds upon the capital’s Victorian legacy of sewers and provides both a major improvement to the sewer system and new public spaces along the river. It will create more than 4000 direct jobs and around 5,000 more indirectly.

    Cabe helped identify the potential of the scheme, creating well-designed spaces for Londoners to enjoy the river.

    Read more about our involvement in the Thames Tideway Tunnel project in our report.

    Download the Thames Tideway Tunnel report (.pdf)

    Image: Thames Tideway Tunnel ©Thames Tideway Tunnel


    Crossrail is Europe’s largest infrastructure project. The new railway will cover over 100km of track including 21km of new twin-bore rail tunnels and ten new stations. Crossrail will, for the first time, deliver a direct connection between all of London’s main employment centres; linking Heathrow with Paddington, the West End, the City and Canary Wharf. The new railway will reduce journey times, ease congestion and improve connections. An estimated 200 million people will travel on Crossrail each year.

    Cabe provided design advice for the public space around the stations, the station buildings and the oversite developments, which have a significant impact on London’s key areas, the West End and the City.

    Read more about our involvement in Crossrail in our case study.

    Download the Crossrail report (.pdf)

    Image: Crossrail ©Crossrail

  3. Tall buildings

    Tall buildings

    The Shard

    Few buildings affect quite as many Londoners as The Shard. Thousands will live and work inside it; millions more see it every day on the city’s skyline.

    The Shard is a 310-metre skyscraper designed by Renzo Piano on the south bank of the Thames, next to London Bridge railway station. The tallest building in Europe, this 95 storey ‘vertical town’  comprises of offices, homes, restaurants, a five star hotel and the capital’s highest viewing gallery. This building is earning its place in the hearts of Londoners, becoming a globally recognised symbol of the capital.

    CABE admires the architecture of this building and find that its effect on the skyline would be a positive one.  However, we believe that the treatment of its immediate urban context is inadequate for such an ambition.

    Download The Shard Design Review letter (.pdf)

     Image: The Shard ©Getty Images

    122 Leadenhall Street

    122 Leadenhall, colloquially known as the ‘Cheesegrater’ building, is a 222m tall tower in the City of London designed by Richard Rogers Partnership comprising of mainly office use, with retail and leisure accommodation on the lower levels.  

    Cabe offered our broad support for this proposal, which we felt to be an intelligently designed scheme with the potential to be an extraordinary addition to the City. 

    Download the 122 Leadenhall Street Design Review letter (.pdf)

    Image: Leadenhall Building ©Rogers Stirk Harbour

    Beetham Tower, Hilton Hotel, Manchester

    The development, a 168.87m tall building designed by Ian Simpson in the heart of Manchester, is split into two easily identifiable elements: the tower containing the residential element and a lower “podium” element containing the hotel public areas, separated from the tower by a clear glazed atrium.

    Cabe supported this impressive proposal to create an iconic landmark tower. This was an opportunity to create visual connectivity with the city centre and attract activity to the south of the centre.

    Download the Beetham Tower Design Review letter (.pdf)

    Image: Beetham Tower ©Simpson Haugh

  4. Housing


    Riverlight, Tideway Wharf

    Riverlight will transform an industrial estate – close to Battersea Power Station on the south bank of the River Thames, into a residential-led mixed use development.

    The scheme includes 806 homes, underground parking, a crèche, restaurants, bars, a food store and other retail spaces. It incorporates a river walk and landscaping to take full advantage of its location and create attractive public spaces for the local community.

    Cabe appreciated the clarity of the scheme and welcomed the generous public space. The strength of the proposal lay in the strong layout of linear blocks alternating with private gardens.

    Download the Riverlight, Tideway Wharf Design Review letter (.pdf)

    Image: Riverlight, Tideway Wharf ©Rodgers Stirk Harbour

    Hopwood Lane, Halifax

    The Hopwood Lane proposals designed by Glenn Howells Architects are for an £11 million mixed-use development, including ten new homes, office space, a cafe and restaurant.

    We warmly welcome this scheme and the careful analysis of local characteristics which have informed it. Its scale, quantum, materials and general architectural language fit successfully into this part of Halifax.

    Cabe warmly welcomes this scheme and the careful analysis of local characteristics which have informed it. Its scale, quantum, materials and general architectural language fit successfully into this part of Halifax.

    Download the Hopwood Lane, Halifax Design Review letter (.pdf)

    Image: Hopwood Lane, Halifax ©CABE

    Jericho Canalside, Oxford

    Having lain empty for many years, the site has been the subject of much local debate with residents keen for it to include facilities for the community including boaters on the canal.

    This mixed-use project, which comprises housing, community centre, boatyard and public space on a contentious canalside site, has involved an intense design and consultation process involving a number of local groups and stakeholders. 

    “The Design Review panel members took on board a complex site and brief and were able to give us constructive feedback that helped us to identify strengths and weaknesses in our scheme.”

    – Matt Watts, Haworth Tompkins,  Architect

    Cabe sees that the scheme has the obvious potential to deliver a valuable mix of uses around what could be one of Oxford’s most important public spaces.

    Download the Jericho Canalside, Oxford Design Review letter (.pdf)

    Image: Jericho Boatsyard, Oxford ©Haworth Tompkins

  5. Offices


    Bloomberg Place

    The Bloomberg Place project was an opportunity to create a new city block in a highly sought after location in the heart of the City of London. The aim was to provide an open and bright office space to suit the vibrancy of Bloomberg’s media corporation.

    Carefully designed to respect the protected view of St Paul’s, Bloomberg Place opens up a number of new public spaces, framing generous vistas towards the cathedral.

    Cabe feels that the project is soundly integrated with its context, the façades are well considered and the proposal could deliver a calm and confident new headquarters for Bloomberg and make a valuable contribution to the City of London

    Download the Bloomberg Place Design Review letter (.pdf)

    Image: Bloomberg Place ©Foster and Partners

    Staffordshire County Council Offices, Tipping Street

    This proposal was for new council offices covering 135,000 sq ft in one four- and one five-storey buildings, with retail at ground level.

    Sustainability issues crucially informed the design, from moderating energy consumption to ‘future proofing’ the offices. The offices consequently won Best Corporate Workplace at the 2012 BCO Regional Awards.

    Cabe welcomed the proposal as a successful piece of architecture; it sits comfortably within the urban pattern of Stafford and provides a welcoming retail environment. 

    Download the Staffordshire County Council Offices, Tipping Street Design Review letter (.pdf)

    Image: Staffordshire County Council Offices ©3DReid

    New Ludgate

    Consisting of two remarkable buildings arranged New Ludgate creates a piazzetta, at the heart of London’s financial, professional and media worlds.

    Cabe commends this compelling proposal, which possesses an admirably calm civic presence and skilfully reorganises this important site.

    “CABE’s support for this scheme was invaluable.”

    – Vanessa Shrimpton, Communications Manager, Fletcher Priest

    Download the New Ludgate Design Review letter (.pdf)

    Image: New Ludgate ©Fletcher Priest

    Elizabeth House

    The Elizabeth House proposal comprises two buildings: a large north building and a smaller south building. The north building is formed of a 12 storey office block raised two storeys above ground level and a residential tower a further 16 storeys tall, including a large scale public gallery space proposed along York Road providing a new cultural venue.

    Cabe supported the project and admired its high quality in terms of composition, elevations and detailing.

    Image: Elizabeth House ©Imaging Atelier

  6. London 2012

    London 2012


    One of the four permanent venues in the London Olympic Park, the Velodrome provides a landmark venue for the indoor track cycling events at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    The building forms an elegant response to the brief by using simple materials in an efficient manner. It contains 6,000 seats in both Olympic and Legacy modes

    Cabe believes that the Velodrome is the 'jewel in the crown' of the Olympic Park and we think the Velodrome has the potential to be an elegant landmark marking the northern edge of the Olympic Park.

    To find out more about CABE’s involvement in the London Olympic Park, please read our built environment design story.

    Download the Velopark Design Review letter (.pdf)

    Image: Velodrome ©Nathaniel Moore

    Olympic Legacy master plan

    London’s 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games provided a catalyst for the long-term regeneration of London’s Lower Lea Valley and East End.

    Guided by the legacy masterplan, thousands of new homes and jobs are created in and around new Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, transforming a contaminated, under-used landscape into a new metropolitan quarter of London which will play a lasting, integral role in the life of the local community.  

    CABE were impressed by the scale of ambition in delivering the Olympic Games in London and believed that the unique combination of parklands in the context of a major industrial city had the potential to make this site the most memorable Olympic venue yet.

    To find out more about CABE’s involvement in the London Olympic Park, please read our built environment design story.

    Download the Olympic Legacy master plan Review letter (.pdf)

    Image: Olympic Legacy master plan ©Aecom/Allies and Morrison

    The ArcelorMittal Orbit

    The ArcelorMittal Orbit was designed as both a sculpture and viewing platform in the London Olympic Park by Anish Kapoor. The interest of the Orbit is as much in the sensory experience of exploring a large-scale sculpture as it is about creating a landmark. 

    Ushida Findlay Architects created the architectural elements of the Orbit, enabling up to a million people per year to visit the structure.

    Cabe agreed with the Olympic Park Legacy Company that the Orbit has proved successful as a marker and attractor for the local area.

    To find out more about CABE’s involvement in the London Olympic Park, please read our built environment design story.

    Download the The ArcelorMittal Orbit Review letter (.pdf)

    (© Image: Simon Kennedy)

    2012 Olympic Stadium

    The 80,000-seat venue London Olympic Games Stadium is now in the process of being converted into a long-term, small scale athletic venue, which will have 25,000 seats. The re-design as part of the legacy programme began in early 2012 and is due to be finished in summer 2016.

    “CABE’s review process certainly helped to ensure a wonderful end result for the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 and has provided the basis for a great legacy for London.”

    – Rod Sheard, Senior Principal, Populous

    Cabe supported the simple, elegant and efficient strategy for a temporary Olympic stadium structure, with a permanent facility that became integrated into the Legacy Park landscape. 

    To find out more about CABE’s involvement in the London Olympic Park, please read our built environment design story.

    Image: Olympic Stadium ©Jason Hawkes

  7. Civic buildings

    Civic buildings

    Mary Rose Museum

    This museum permanently houses the wreck of the Mary Rose – Henry VIII’s flagship. The hull requires highly specialist environmental conditions to enable conservation to continue. The new museum cradles the hull at the centre of the building. It offers a unique experience for visitors to experience the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

    Cabe commends its strong, simple form. It works well within the sensitive context of the Dockyard and provides a high quality environment for the ship and her visitors.

    Download the Mary Rose Museum Design Review letter (.pdf)

    Image: Mary Rose ©Wilkinson Erye

    Alder Hey Children’s Health Park, Liverpool

    This unique concept for the new hospital combined state-of-the-art clinical functionality has a striking new identity and fulfils the Trust’s ambition to recast Alder Hey as the Children’s Health Park.

    “The panel was helpful in highlighting the essence of our design concept and encouraging the design and client teams to remain true to its essential features, above all the primacy of the landscape and the new hospital’s integration with the park.”

    – Benedict Zucchi, Director of Architecture, BDP

    Cabe ensured Alder Hey Children’s Hospital offers world-class design as well as a ‘next-generation’ medical experience.

    To find out more about our involvement in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, please read our case study.

    Download the Alder Hey Design Review letter (.pdf)

    Image: Alder Hey Children’s Health Park, Liverpool ©BDP

    Birmingham Library

    The Library of Birmingham (LoB) designed by Mecanoo is a People’s Palace, a centre for learning, information and culture that unites people of all ages and backgrounds, which makes it more than just a building. The design extends the space of the street indoors.

    Situated between the concrete Repertory Theatre (REP) from 1962 and the listed Baskerville House from 1936, the library transforms the largest public square in the heart of the city.

    Cabe supports the City’s ambition for this new Library of Birmingham to be a world-class facility and admire many aspects of the scheme.

    Download the Birmingham Library Design Review letter (.pdf)

     Image: Birmingham Library Mecanoo ©Architecten b.v

Support services


Cabe support services

In parallel to our standard services, we deliver bespoke packages of hands-on expert support, focusing on your individual needs.

This can help at any stage of your project, preferably in the early stages, where our advice has the greatest impact on the design process. We also help define policy, and guide your strategic direction for a place, project, programme of work or organisation.
By definition, each bespoke package is different, but they include elements like:

  • Technical advice on design quality, housing, sustainability or public space
  • Help with procurement, from preparing a design brief to choosing an architect
  • A tailored day at your office to help your people embed good design in projects and practice

For an example of how we provide support services to communities, have a look at the case study below.


For information on pricing to suit your project, please contact Nicola Mathers, below. 


Training and CPD


Cabe training and CPD

Design Council Cabe run an ongoing series of affordable seminars and conferences for professionals in the built environment.

These events are designed to build capacity of individuals or teams, hone your skills, stay up to date with policy, challenge the experts and make new contacts. 

We can also build a bespoke programme to address your specific needs. Example topics include delivering good quality housing, healthcare, education and cultural buildings, infrastructure, sustainability, inclusion, public space, public art and viability.

We can help you at any stage in the development process from visioning, local and neighbourhood plans, stakeholder engagement, site allocation, brief writing, procurement, masterplanning and Design Review.

We deliver training for local authority officers and members, the private sector and community groups.


For information on pricing to suit your project, please contact Meera Loader, below.