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Updated details of HS2 Independent Design Panel released

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The Department for Transport has released updated details of the HS2 Independent Design Panel, created in 2015 to use the framework of the Design Vision to advise and hold to account HS2’s leadership, project teams and partners, and help them to make the right design choices.

Chaired by Sadie Morgan, the design panel acts in an independent non-executive, advisory capacity. Its role is to enable decision making at early stages of project development and to review and critique outcomes at key stages in the design process. The design panel does not make design decisions, but it does offer impartial recommendations and advice.

The design panel on a site visit – (L-R) Tony Burton, Annie Coombs and Martin Stockley listen intently to their guide.

The design panel’s 39 members advise on the topics of governance, procurement / design management, civil / structural engineering, M & E engineering / sustainability, landscape architecture, town planning / urban design, rail operation / service design, product / brand / digital design, architecture, community engagement, art / design commentating / championing / researching and retail strategy / development economics.

Sadie Morgan,
HS2 Independent Design Panel.

In her foreword to the panel’s handbook, chairman Sadie Morgan said: “Every aspect of HS2 needs to excel through outstanding design. HS2 Ltd has shown its commitment to the HS2 Design Vision by setting up and working with the HS2 Independent Design Panel.

“The panel brings the fresh critical thinking, support and encouragement needed to push boundaries and forge something new – delivering on the ambition for HS2 to be a railway the nation can be proud of.

“There have already been significant strides forward in design ambition and quality, with examples including Curzon Street Station, and the Colne Valley Viaduct.

Colne Valley Viaduct crossing over the River Colne, design by Align JV.

“Phase One enabling work is now under way, and Phase Two – which will take HS2 trains beyond Birmingham to Crewe, Manchester, Leeds and Scotland – is at a strategic design stage.

“We now have the opportunity to learn lessons from Phase One and improve the design process for Phase Two.”

Allan Cook, HS2.

HS2 chairman Allan Cook added: “We expect HS2 to create an extraordinary legacy – one that Britain can be proud of.

“With a wealth of talent from across many disciplines, the HS2 Independent Design Panel is helping to build that legacy. We have set ourselves the challenge of achieving the highest standards in civil engineering, station architecture, landscape design and innovative technology in railway operations. Every design task is critical.

“We already see examples of high-quality design by HS2 Ltd and those it is working with – for example, the designs for Curzon Street and Leeds stations and the Wendover Dean and Manchester Ship Canal viaducts; the blueprint for rolling stock interiors; and a transformation of the experience of travelling by rail.

Wendover Dean Viaduct, design by Eiffage Kier.

“I wholeheartedly encourage and support the HS2 Independent Design Panel’s continuing involvement as a ‘critical friend’ to HS2 Ltd as we move ahead towards Phase One completion in  2026 – and ensure that the successes of Phase One inspire similar, and even greater, design quality for Phase Two.”

The HS2 Design Vision sets out nine principles grouped around three themes: People, Place, and Time. The design panel is using that framework to help the HS2 leadership, project teams and other partners to make the right design choices – and also to hold them to account.

Design for Small Dean Viaduct by Eiffage Kier.

The HS2 Independent Design Panel is currently led by Prof. Sadie Morgan (dRMM Architects, chairman), Tony Burton (community and sustainability consultant, vice chairman), Annie Coombs (landscape consultant, deputy chairman) and Martin Stockley (engineering consultant, deputy chairman).

The full membership of HS2 Independent Design Panel, together with biographies, is available on the government’s website.

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