A team of ‘critical friends’ made up of 25 architects, environmental experts and town planners has been appointed by Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s pioneering regeneration company, to act as design champions for the borough.

Their appointment to the Barking and Dagenham Quality Review Panel comes as the borough emerges as one of London’s top growth spots, with an estimated 50,000 new homes expected to be delivered in the next 20 years.

The Quality Review Panel will act independently to planners and developers, ensuring the highest possible standards of design are observed across the borough’s major new developments and emerging masterplans.

Caroline Harper, Chief Planner at Be First, said: “We’re determined to deliver the highest possible standards of design in every new development and, at the same time, we want to retain and promote the distinctiveness and architectural character of the borough.

“So, I am delighted to announce the appointment of this talented and vastly experienced group of experts who will help us make sure development works for local residents.”

The panel members are responsible for ensuring new developments reflect and build upon existing physical, social and cultural assets especially the borough’s rich and diverse architectural heritage.

Neil Deely, the newly appointed chair of the Panel, said: “I’m really excited to have been invited to take on this important role.  It couldn’t be a more exciting time to work in Barking and Dagenham as their ambition as a borough is awe-inspiring.”

“I’m fully committed to making sure that as a panel, we deliver top quality, sustainable developments that encourage thriving communities.”

Deborah Denner, Director of Frame Projects, who were commissioned to select and support the panel, said: “The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has many award-winning developments that have been completed in recent years. From the town centre to the Thames riverside, there are plenty of examples of successful regeneration projects, creating a high quality of life for local people.

“These schemes help set a high bar for development in the area, and the panel’s role is to help ensure new proposals meet a similarly high standard.”

The first meeting of the Quality Review Panel on 27 July included a visit to the Gascoigne estate, where a selection of panel members began the process of examining the latest plans for the western side of the estate.