Welcome to the Urban Design Group

Electric Vehicles don't solve the problems caused by car ownership and use

Are electric vehicles the solution to urban movement? Following presentations from leading 12 speakers, delegates at the UDG - London Living Streets conference held in London on 11 October went away in grave doubt. 

Read the seminar report.

Presentations available to download



AGM 2018 elects new chair and treasurer

Leo Hammond - Chair Katja Stille - Treasurer


UDG Annual Report and Accounts 2018


The 2019 entry deadline has now passed.  The shortlisting panel, chaired by Sebastian Loew will meet in October, with the shortlisted entries appearing in a special awards publication in the first weeks of the New Year. 

Look out for details of the March 2019 event later in the year. 





Urban Update Latest

News and Research    Around the World  


Built Environment

From Fallout to Half-Life, urban planning is crucial for game design



Nine benches created by young designers enliven London


Politics and Economics

Study finds less corruption in countries where more women are in government

Better be safe than sorry: Economic optimization risks tipping of Earth system elements



Clean energy investment ‘must be 50% higher’ to limit warming to 1.5C

Huge mistake’: Britain throwing away lead in tidal energy, say developers



Study on social interactions could improve understanding of mental health risks

New study shows that watching films set in a natural environment boosts body image



Highways have divided and afflicted city neighbourhoods for decades. Can they be redeemed?


Natural Environment

Palm oil: The carbon cost of deforestation

Who do people think is to blame for marine litter?

Humans are causing mammals to increasingly adopt the nightlife

Agricultural intensification not a 'blueprint' for sustainable development

Original habitat is best, but restoration still makes a big difference

Breathing better may be an added benefit of biodiversity



Few early parent education programs available to help dads

First significant study on autism and homelessness

Women’s basic rights under threat from Trump gag rule, warn experts



Ten megatrends every investor should know about

Ground-breaking discoveries could create superior alloys with many applications

Can smart city tech shape America’s real estate?




To design safer parks for women, city planners must listen to their stories


Flat-townhouse complex draws 14 objections in a week



Junk Science Week: Obesity experts fight for sugar taxes while beating down evidence



More of the Chinese population will be exposed to heat waves



National car versus the public’s health



Integrated approach is the best way to manage urban growth, expert says


New Zealand

Move made to put urban design on Government’s agenda


Saudi Arabia

Lifting of Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving poses policy challenges



Aberdeen councillors asked to approve £550,000 for new public space



Wynyard 'white elephant' bridge plan 'a waste of money'


Building More, Building Beautiful– Policy Exchange Report


Great British High Street Competition



See the top-secret suburbs that built America’s nuclear weapons












UCL – UDG – Place Alliance – Urban Design Skills Survey – Report Released

Housingdelivery under threat through a lack of design skills in planning departments

The UK Government, both in its manifesto and in the recent Housing Green Paper, committed itself to a step change in the delivery of high quality new homes across the country.  Research published today puts those aspirations in doubt because of worsening design skills gaps in English local planning authorities.

Urban design skills in local authorities…woefully low

This report summarises the findings of a freedom of information survey of urban design skills within local planning authorities, and how they have changed over the last five years. It demonstrates that urban design skills and capacity within local planning authorities are woefully low and declining and that these gaps are not being filled by the patchy, albeit increasing, use of design review. Critical gaps exist within local planning authorities, including the ability to produce proactive design guidance in-house in order to positively shape the future of new housing developments.


Key findings 

Local authority in-house design capacity is low

Almost half of local planning authorities have no dedicated in-house design capacity at all

Of those that do, most have only a single officer often covering design as one part of a larger

Only around 10% have what might be referred to as an urban design / place-making team

Capacity has been falling over time

There has been a significant move to role sharing, with urban design now a typically only a fractional responsibility within a larger role, e.g. conservation and design, and no longer conducted by an officer or team with specialist design expertise.

Design Review – limited use

Only 19% of local planning authorities are regular (ie monthly or quarterly) users of design review.  This is despite the National Planning Policy Framework stating: “Local planning authorities should have local design review arrangements in place to provide assessment and support to ensure high standards of design“(para.62).

Wide variation in use of guidance

The use of design guidance beyond that available in the local plan varies tremendously.  Over half of local planning authorities still favouring their own internally produced supplementary design guidance

The Government’s National Planning Practice Guidance is little used

Resources for the production of new proactive local design guidance for sites or areas has now largely disappeared

Urban design training widespread but shallow

Urban design related training is still available for three quarters of planning officers and half of councillors, but typically this is minimal and focused on raising awareness rather than on developing design skills.

Risk of a new generation of substandard developments

A very real danger now exists that as we gear up to deliver a greater number of homes nationally, the absence of design expertise locally will result in a new generation of substandard developments. This, for example, includes new housing estates that are dominated by roads and tarmac, lacking any greenery or character, and which are disconnected from public transport and local amenities. These, moreover, will be with us for generations to come.

The research was conducted by Professor Matthew Carmona and Dr Valentina Giordano at UCL’s Bartlett School of Planning with financial support from the Urban Design Group and the Place Alliance. 


Download the full report


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About the Urban Design Group 

Founded in 1978, the Urban Design Group (UDG) is a campaigning membership organisation with over 1000 members who care about the quality of life in our cities, towns and villages, and believe that raising standards of urban design is central to its improvement.

The UDG website contains a wealth of information for anyone interested in urban design including details of urban design practices, university courses, publications and job vacancies, as well as future urban design events. Our regular email newsletter 

Urban Update is a one-stop-shop for urban design news, articles and blog posts.



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