Urban Design 101 - Winter 2007

Design Codes: How will they work in England?

Publication Date: 01 January 2007


Design Codes are nothing new: they have existed for hundreds of years, even in this country. They appeared to have gone out of fashion until recently when they moved to the top of the government’s agenda - or at least the Department for Communities and Local Government’s and CABE’s – which jointly commissioned a research project from UCL’s Bartlett School of Planning and Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design. The directors of this research – Matthew Carmona and Jane Dann - have edited some of the papers to produce the central topic of Issue 101 of Urban Design, the quarterly journal of the Urban Design Group. The issue has been sponsored by English Partnerships which is piloting some of the design codes schemes.


The editors have used the experience from other countries – the US, Germany, Australia and the Netherlands – to draw lessons for this country whilst realising that the conditions and the context vary from one place to the other. They consider what the government is trying to achieve with codes, what they realistically can achieve and what is needed to apply them successfully. They recognise that they are not a panacea, nor can they operate in a vacuum (of inter alia design skills), but also suggest that some of the criticisms addressed to them are misplaced. Overall this is a stimulating collection of articles which should inform the debate around the future adoption of design codes in the UK.


A number of independent contributors to the magazine debate other sensitive issues: Graham King is incensed by some of the attitudes of development control officers, Alastair Donald challenges received ideas about public art and Ken Baker dares to defend unfashionable views about Milton Keynes. Judith Ryser reports on the very successful conference organised by the Urban Design Group in Bristol, on matters of sustainable urban environments.


Altogether this is another stimulating issue which no urban design professional should be without, Urban Design is the leading journal in its field. Each issue provides in-depth analysis of topical themes, with contributions from leading practitioners, policymakers and academics from the UK and abroad. Its 48 pages offer a mix of articles, short reports and listings that reflect the diversity of urban design today.