Welcome to 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.

Scroll down to read more about our key current initiatives:

  • Strategic Urban Design
  • Modernising Street Design Practice
  • Increasing Local Authority Skills



This year we went BIG - big screen, big turnout and big events.

A massive thank you to our 20 Conference Speakers, 220 delegates, all our sponsors and to everyone else who helped to make this one of our most successful Conferences yet! More info here

Fabulously preceded by the job useful Design Quality Summit which announced the launch of Design : Midlands, and the fun and dynamic Urban DesignFest

Thanks for all the positive feedback and tweets, we will build on it #PeopleFriendlyPlaces

Urban DesignFest panel of judges David Harrison (London Living Streets), Simon Delahunty Forrest (Birmingham City Council), Jane Findlay (President Elect, Landscape Institure) and Paj Valley (WPS) vigoroursly debate the winner of our poster competition who is...

Liz Reynolds of Urben! Click through on poster image to see her slide presentation.


As always, we couldn't put on such an ambitious event without the continuing and generous support of our sponsors GreenBlue Urban, Hardscape, Pegasus Group, Dar, Savills, Barton Willmore, Boyer, Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Urban Movement, RIBA Midlands, LI West Midlands and Glenn Howells Architects.


Next Event at UDG

Our next event is the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals 05 February 2020. Our towns, cities, and settlements are shaped by a variety of local forces, design guides, and political aspirations. This can lead to a disparate response to the urban crises we face, and development that at its heart is not contributing to the quality of life of future generations. This event will explore the role - success and failures - of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in shaping places globally. A role that aims to give authorities a clear and unified mandate and ability to shape places firstly as a catalyst for improved quality of life and a shared and equable future.

If you missed it, you can watch this year’s Kevin Lynch Memorial Lecture with Professor Kate Jeffery below. UCL’s Gustave Tuck lecture theatre was packed out for her fascinating talk on what neuroscience can tell us about our sense of place and sense of direction.

Visit our events page for additional future events. See our events archive archive, including the Future High Street Fund: inspiration for success. Presentations, key ideas and recommendations...


Happy 40 Birthday UDG!

The UDG was formally constituted on 10 April 1979. 40 years on and we are very much still guided by the principles laid out in our original Manifesto:

"To provide a forum for those wo believe that planning should be more concerned with the improvement of the  design of the physical environment and the quality of places and to encourage all the professions to combine to this end. This is in the belief that society judges us primarily by the quality of the places we create..."

See more


   Reports, Surveys and Initiatives


Strategic Urban design Initiative 2019

Achieving good urban form through the local plan process

The UDG is launching a service to advise local authorities on strategic urban design issues in the local plan process modelled on the design review process. The Strategic Urban Design Initiative will provide support at critical stages of the plan making process to ensure that there is a strong design input into shaping towns or city quarters.

Read more

Street Design in the UK

Pilot Survey 2018

Pilot survey reveals widespread failure to update highways standards

Following the UDG 2018 survey which showed that most highway authorities are still using 1960's street design standards, the UDG is to working to ensure that they adopt standards which reflect best practice, comply with professional codes of conduct and discharge statutory and common law duties.


Electric Vehicles: a threat to Cities?

Conference Report 2018

Are electric vehicles the solution to urban movement?

Following presentations from 12 leading speakers, delegates at the UDG - London Living Streets conference went away in grave doubt. 

Conference report.

Urban Design Skills in English Local Authorities

UCL - UDG - Place Alliance Report Sept 2017


Housing delivery 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 supported by the UDG puts those aspirations in doubt because of worsening design skills gaps in English local planning authorities.

Read more


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   Urban Update

Urban Update is a regular free news service for people with an interest in the design of cities, towns and villages. It covers latest news, research, events and jobs. Sign up here.

Urban Update - Latest Research and International News

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URBANUPDATE   23 January 2020 75 percent of housing development in England “mediocre or poor” – is the NPPF being ignored? Next Events UN Sustainable Development...
URBANUPDATE   6 January 2020   Fully updated events listing for the New Year Next Events Urban Climates – 9 January – fully booked with long waiting list –...
URBANUPDATE 27 November 2019 ·       Next Event – Central London Walking Network Sorry fully booked – no admission on the door ·...
URBANUPDATE   8 November 2019 ·       Next Event – Urban Design and Neuroscience – understanding navigation, mental maps, and sense of...
URBANUPDATE 25 October 2019 Report on the National Urban Design Conference 2019 – Making People-friendly Places Next Event – Urban Design and Neuroscience –...