Sadie Morgan hails news as Whitehall says design champions must be at board level

The government has outlined a requirement for there to be a design champion on all major infrastructure projects.

In its National Infrastructure Strategy (NIS), which was published alongside the spending review yesterday, the government laid out a number of design requirements for projects.

HS2_200113_Interchange station visuals_200113 Low Axo

Source: HS2 Ltd

Projects such as HS2 already have design panels in place. This is Arup's Interchange Station for Solihull

The NIS is the government’s official response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) National Infrastructure Assessment, which was published more than two years ago.

The strategy said: "The government expects all infrastructure projects to have a board-level design champion in place by the end of 2021 at either the project, programme or organisational level, supported where appropriate by design panels.

"Such panels should include members with a broad range of skills and expertise. These design champions and panels should work closely with the NIC and the design group to consider how their principles can be effectively and proportionately embedded in the UK’s infrastructure system and share good practice."

Sadie Morgan, chair of the NIC’s design group, said she hoped the announcement would be a watershed moment in improving the quality of design across infrastructure for both local and national projects.

She said: “We’re particularly pleased to see government back our recommendation for all major national infrastructure projects to have a board-level design champion supported by a design panel, to help ensure schemes are built sustainably to a high standard, looking beyond their core function to add value to communities and the natural environment.

Sadie Morgan

Source: C Guiout

Sadie Morgan

“We will continue to encourage government and their project partners to use our design principles for national infrastructure as a tool for achieving this.”

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Other design requirements set out in the strategy include infrastructure projects being required to demonstrate how they intend to deliver and create better-designed infrastructure as part of their assurance and approval process.

It said the use of design champions and the NIC’s design principles would be embedded in the Infrastructure and Projects Authority’s delivery support and assurance regime for scrutiny throughout the project lifecycle.