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

 

   News

 

Fast Urban Change for Life-Saving Streets

PRESS RELEASE 12 MAY 2020

Fast urbanism at work in Brixton: widened pavement created overnight at busy bus stop

Urban Designers call for urgent changes to the design of town and city streets and spaces to address the crises of COVID 19, Air Quality, Obesity and Wellbeing, and Climate Change. To meet their statutory duties, local authorities need the courage and resources to act NOW.

The UK Urban Design Group is calling for fast urban change to create life-saving streets and spaces.

We have published a HOW TO GUIDE as now is the time for practical action, not words. People who can’t work from home are being encouraged to return but without using public transport; the restriction on amount of exercise is being lifted, and businesses are beginning to reopen…  this will put streets and spaces under huge and immediate pressure. We need to provide space to allow this to happen. READ MORE

Read the article by Scott Elliott Adams and Christopher Martin which gave birth to the guide: Live Saving-Streets - Redesigning our towns + cities as people-friendly places in order to address Covid-19

 

National Urban Design Awards 2020

Due to the Corovid 19 pandemic, UDG staff are now working from home. All forthcoming events have been cancelled, including sadly the Student and Book Awards, however on 29 April as planned we did announce our worthy winners!

The Francis Tibbald's Student Award went to Consuelo Morales (Bartlett School of Planning) for

A SUSTAINABLE VISION FOR WANDLE VALLEY

“This year’s entries have demonstrated how varied and focused the field of Urban Design can be. Submissions showcased innovation in dealing with a number of serious issues such as climate change, human behaviours, health and social justice. It was refreshing to have a glimpse of what future professionals are thinking, and how their imagination and creativity could change the way we live.”  Judge - Laura Alvarez, Nottingham City Council

 

The Book Award went to David Rudlin and Shruti Hemani (RIBA Publishing) for

CLIMAX CITY Masterplanning and the Complexity of UrbanGrowth  

"The title of the book is drawn from a biological metaphor: the concept of ‘climax vegetation’ is the distinctive natural state towards which an area of landscape will move in the absence of human intervention; each part of the planet has a different climax state dependent on climate and local context, and this seemed to the authors to be analogous to the diversity of urban conditions around the world. Climax City is an optimistic celebration of that diversity. It is a fascinating read and a beautiful artefact that will be enjoyed by – and should be strongly recommended to – a wide range of professionals, academics and a curious general audience."

 

Read the full review here

 

See all the finalists in both categories here

At some point during the year we will host an event to celebrate the achievements of the Student and Book Finalists, declare the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award and share the findings of our review of the last ten years of the National Urban Design Awards.

 

UDG Covid 19 Response

We're rescheduling much of our Cowcross Street Spring / Summer programme as webinars - keep checking the events page for updates. We've also launched a new inititive: ideasSpace, series of webinars open to everyone who wants to help formulate how we should act now to overcome this crisis and perpare ourselves for the next.

How we design our cities today will save lives tomorrow.

More Covid useful info here including headline results from UDG registered practice snap survey canvasssing Covid 19 impact on business.

PRESS RELEASE 12 MAY 2020

Urban Designers call for urgent changes to the design of town and city streets and spaces to address the crises of COVID 19, Air Quality, Obesity and Wellbeing, and Climate Change. To meet their statutory duties, local authorities need the courage and resources to act NOW.

We have published a HOW TO GUIDE as now is the time for practical action, not words. People who can’t work from home are being encouraged to return but without using public transport; the restriction on amount of exercise is being lifted, and businesses are beginning to reopen…  this will put streets and spaces under huge and immediate pressure. We need to provide space to allow this to happen. READ MORE

 

A Letter to the Minister....

18 February 2020: Letter goes to Minister calling for Design Quality Unit to ensure the recommendations of the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission are followed through. The 4BC report contains a wide range of recommendations including the addressing of out-of-date street design standards, the harmonising of VAT rates for new build and refurbishment – which incentivise demolition and rebuild, ignoring embedded carbon, through to the democratisation of planning.  See Briefing sheet in next news item.

The letter stems from an initial idea by UDG Exec member Chris Martin, of Urban Movement, which has gained the support of the Place Alliance, Civic Voice, CPRE, Trees and Design Action Group, Academy of Urbanism and Design Council. Read letter in full

 

LIVING WITH BEAUTY - UDG Briefing Sheet

 

 

UDG have compiled a Briefing Sheet providing an overview of “Living with Beauty”, the final report from the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission published January 2020 by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

You can download the UDG briefing sheet here

and the full BBBC report here

Kevin Lynch Memorial Lecture

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.

 

Conference 2019

Last 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

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.

News on Conference 2020 coming soon!

 

Events archive

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.

Read more   

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

 

   Latest on UrbanNous

 

 

 

With the current uncertainty regarding how Covid19 will spread in the coming few weeks, we are placing a hold on our April events in Cowcross Street, although we hope to offer a virtual alternative. More info to follow.

   @UDGUrbanUpdate

 

   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   14 January 2020 BBBC– Living with Beauty – One Page UDG Briefing Sheet available New UrbanNous videos – Housing Design Quality Audit – Climate...
URBANUPDATE   31 January 2020   BBBC Report Published – Living with Beauty Best urban design to reduce traffic injuries; Design for children Building for a New Urban...
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 ·...