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



Due to the Corovid 19 pandemic, UDG staff are now all working from home. All forthcoming events have been cancelled, including sadly the Student and Book Awards (shortlist will still be announced in the next few days). We hope to reschedule as soon as possible and virtual events are in the pipeline. More info to follow, in the meantime be safe, do your bit.

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 The 4BC report contains a wide range of recommendations including the addressing of out-of-date street design standards, the harmonising of VAT rates for new build and refurbishment – which incentivise demolition and rebuild, ignoring embedded carbon,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



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

Next Event at UDG

With the current uncertainty regarding how Covid19 will spread in the coming few weeks, we have put on hold all our events for the next few months, although we hope to offer a virtual alternative. More info to follow.

See our events lisitings page - plenty of great stuff in the archives!

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...


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!


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


   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.



   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

Syndicate content
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 ·...