UPDATED: 9 April 2020

Like many organisation across the world the Urban Design Group is now adjusting to the challenges of the necessary lock down. We sincerely hope that you and your practice are coping well under these very difficult circumstances.

The initial impression from our members is that workloads are remaining the same for the moment, though work that relates to work on site has declined as sites have closed. People are finding they are working longer hours, and spending a lot of time in on-line meetings. This intensity may be difficult to sustain in the longer term (see our snap survey results below). Planning authorities seem to have mostly migrated to online working already, as have design review panels.

The Government is providing a number of business support packages for organisations and sole traders including:

  • Small Business Rate Relief 
  • Rural Rate Relief
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough)
  • HMRC Time to Pay Service (VAT, self-assessment, PAYE)
  • Business Support Grant Funding (England)
  • Self-employment Income Support Scheme
  • Reclaiming statutory sick pay for employees
  • Immediate statutory sick pay for employees
  • Mortgage Holiday 

Information can be found on the Government website: Financial support for businesss during coronavirus (COVID-19)

We strongly recommend that you liaise with your accountant and follow existing employment law when placing staff on furlough. Both parties being in agreement is always the best outcome.


RESULTS OF SNAP SURVEY : 8 April 2020 Urban Design Group registered practices (sample size 48)

How well is your practice coping with online working?

Business as normal 4%  
Managing 78%  
Struggling 21%  


Have you seen any immediate changes to its workload?

Increase 4%  
No change 23%  
Slight decrease 23%  
Moderate decrease 29%  
Large decrease 21%  


How do you expect things to change over the next 3 months?

Increase 7%  
No change 11%  
Slight decrease 26%  
Moderate decrease 35%  
Large decrease 22%  


Will the experience of working online change the way your practice works in the long run?

No 6%  
A little 48%  
Quite a lot 23%  
A great deal 6%  
Not sure yet 17%  


Furloughing Staff

We have not had to furlough any staff 29%  
We may look to furlough staff 13%  
We have furloughed some staff already 58%  


Are you aware of the support available from the Government, and which may be suitable for your business?

Yes 96%  
No 4%  


Some Conclusions

  • Most practices are coping, but there’s obvious concern about the future. 
  • People are finding on-line teamwork, management and encouragement more time consuming.  
  • About a third of practices think that the experience of on-line working will change their working practices significantly. We can expect this to happen across business as a whole: it will be a very important switch in transport demand with land use implications. Peak movement is associated with the journey to work - if this is reduced or spread, then the requirement for transport infrastructure will reduce and a 10 percent reduction in peak demand may be all that is needed to remove the justification for junction 'improvements', bypasses, and inner urban relief roads.