In NSW an Environmental Planning Instrument (EPI) may require a project to demonstrate Design Excellence through the undertaking of a Design Excellence process. The term thus has two applications in the planning system – as a process and an outcome.

Design Excellence clauses in EPIs are typically applied to projects that are prominent for physical or cultural reasons, or used to drive positive change towards better design in areas where this has been a challenge. 

Design Excellence requirements can be triggered by factors such as location, capital investment value, building height or lot size. Because Design Excellence is connected to project prominence, it implies a higher standard of design quality than ‘good design’, often described as the highest standard of architectural, urban and landscape design. This requires the implementation of a process that is rigorous – most often a design competition and occasionally a design review process. 

Design Excellence and Better Placed

Better Placed sets a standard for the whole of NSW. This includes projects that are required to undertake a Design Excellence process and the many that do not.

  • Better Placed is an aspirational set of objectives, championing good design processes and outcomes across all project types and scales. Design Excellence is a specific process linked to statutory planning requirements and is typically directed at large or significant projects.
  • EPIs provide matters for consideration when assessing Design Excellence. Better Placed offers a set of objectives that are holistic and aspirational with a wider focus for people, communities, and the benefit of NSW.