Urban Update 19 July 2019


19 July 2019

  • Windowless Permitted Development exposes Visionless Planning System
  • Building Better, Building Beautiful – Interim Report published
  • Design guidance for bus provision published by Stagecoach 
  • Why have US pedestrian fatalities increased by 50 percent over the past 10 years?
  • Career opportunities – 10+  vacancies

Next UDG London Event

The Great Bridges of England

Monday 22nd July 2019 – 6.15-8.15

Featuring a brand-new book on old London Bridge

The book shows how London Bridge was actually a city built over water. It:

  • Reconstructs the plan of the bridge and houses in the 17th century using the new evidence, and shows that the bridge roadway was wider and the houses were much larger than previously thought;
  • Reconstructs the original layout of c.1209, consisting of shop-houses about 10 feet wide together with a chapel, stone gate and drawbridge tower;
  • Describes the cutting-edge architecture of the 16th century which made the bridge famous throughout Europe;
  • Reconstructs the internal layout of the houses, with many unexpected features, such as the cross buildings over the roadway at first-floor level; much of the bridge was under cover
  • Charts the changes in the trades carried out on the bridge, in what was one of London’s top 5 shopping streets
  • Records the introduction of a keep-right rule, later changed to a keep-left one;
  • Explains how the City managed to widen the bridge roadway to 20 feet in the 1680s without having to pay anything itself. 



Windowless Dwellings permissible as Permitted Development exposes a broken and dysfunctional planning system

Lack of acceptable legal definition of “dwellinghouse” enables flats with no windows allowed under permitted development

A council’s decision to block the conversion of a warehouse into 15 self contained flats has been overturned on appeal.  The planning inspector ruled that while the flats are small, at half the minimum standard for a 1 bedroom flat, and 7 of which will have no windows, the size of individual dwellings to be formed by the change of use and whether they would have windows/ventilation is not a condition of the GPDO.

Further details



The General Permitted Development Order 2015 enables the change of use to “dwellinghouse”.  Looking at the detail of the order we find:

Permitted development

P.  Development consisting of a change of use of a building and any land within its curtilage from a use falling within Class B8 (storage or distribution centre) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order to a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouses) of that Schedule.


What is a dwellinghouse?

The apparent absence of a sensible definition of “dwellinghouse” for the purposes of the Order is the core problem.   The definitions of dwellinghouse given in the GDPO are:

“dwellinghouse”, except in Part 3 of Schedule 2 to this Order (changes of use), does not include a building containing one or more flats, or a flat contained within such a building;

“flat”, except in the expression “flat roof”, means a separate and self-contained set of premises constructed or adapted for use for the purpose of a dwelling and forming part of a building from some other part of which it is divided horizontally;

So what is a dwellinghouse?   The planning inspector presiding in this appeal has taken the view that a dwellinghouse could be a structure with ventilation but with no windows.  The worrying issue is that planning law may have left dwellinghouse as an abstract and undefined concept. If windows are unnecessary to qualify a structure as a dwellinghouse, does the same apply to walls or a roof or a floor?  It is to be hoped that this case will go to the High Court.  

One can imagine the ridicule that would attach to the authors of the Highways Act 1980 were they to have omitted a robust definition of a highway.  They did omit it, and one has to refer to case law – Gorringe v Calderdale House of Lords 2004 for a definition.

A judge once said that planning law is a complex and artificial body of knowledge through which common sense is no sure guide.  This remains true today.  At a time when we need the planning system to achieve sustainable development – true sustainable development rather than public relations sustainable development – it is a tragedy for both people and planet.


Built Environment

Stagecoach publishes “Bus Services and New Residential Developments – General Highways and Urban Design advice to applicants and Highways Authorities. 


NB- in arriving at design decisions, the recommendations contained in this guidance needs to be balanced against all other technical guidance, statutory duties and higher-level policies relevant to the design.  New development can be very badly compromised by a failure to make balanced decision.

Planners Guide to Community Led Housing – Report Published


Building Better, Building Beautiful – Interim Report published

• Beautiful buildings – considering windows, height, space and materials;

• Beautiful places – the ‘spirit of place’, the nature of streets, squares and parks; and

• Beautifully placed – sustainable settlement patterns in the right place and sitting in the landscape.  


Housing for a fairer society: The role of councils in ensuring stronger societies – New Report by the Association for Public Sector Excellence

Half of councils in England think permitted development housing could threaten people’s health and wellbeing


The 2019 Housing Design Awards – Winners


London – National Park City Launch 22nd July 2019


Bond Street Public Realm Scheme


Birmingham Centenary Square Scheme nears completion




Global population of eight billion and growing: we can’t go on like this



Energy and Climate Change

UK is going backwards on climate change action, advisers warn


Planes worse for climate than thought


Council directors’ body ADEPT has called on ministers to put a coherent policy and regulatory framework in place to support local authority efforts to tackle climate change


These are the same directors who are responsible for county council highways and street design and adoption standards, the vast majority of which still are based on car-optimised 1960s philosophies of distributor roads, high speed limits, bans on cross-roads and a requirement for DMRB roundabouts, streets sized to fit 32 tonne refuse collection vehicles rather than pedestrians and cyclists, side street entrances with excessive corner radii.  These street design is ill-suited to pedestrians, cyclists and disabled and elderly people, and lead to low density development patterns that further disadvantage sustainable, active travel.

Video shows how Boston development adapts to rising sea levels


This video is available in the US or though VPNs


Politics, Philosophy, Economics

Centre for Cities Report questions the role of the planning system in increasing wealth inequality


Urban Design Next: A Conceptual Framework for the Open City


Neighbourhoods, Nature, Networks – 3 Pillars for Healthy and Happy Cities

“While many urban projects are designed with happiness and well-being in mind, these elements get phased out in the final stages of proposals due to cost, or because they are deemed non-essential.”




Why are US drivers killing so many pedestrians? – Incredibly, pedestrian fatalities in the USA have increased by 50 percent since 2009.


Motor vehicles are now the leading killer of children in the USA


How Utrecht became a paradise for cyclists  - city saving 300 million Euro per annum through reduced pollution and health care costs


Ten common myths about bike lanes


Edinburgh cyclists win damages over injuries caused by tram tracks


Cyclist faces £100k legal costs following collision with pedestrian


It is often forgotten that pedestrians can also be sued, including children.


National Urban Design Conference 2019

26.27.28 September - Birmingham

Making People-Friendly Places

Booking now open

  • Design Quality Summit
  • Urban Design Fest
  • Main Conference
  • Guided Walks
  • Exhibition

Sponsored tickets available for Local Authority / Public Sector

GreenBlue Urban




Boyer Planning

Glenn Howells Architects




Urban Nous videos


Improving the Process used to identify land for development - New

Paul Reynolds, Urben


Why are well conceived urban design masterplans so rarely realised?

Katja Stille, Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design


Making People Friendly Big Streets - Redesigning a City Street

Ian Hingley, Urban Movement


Creating Neighbourhoods not Housing Estates - Introduction

Noha Nasser


Councillors’ Attitudes to Residential Design

Matthew Carmona


Is the quality of design an economic issue?

David Rudlin



Scores of recorded urban design lectures kindly provided by Fergus Carnegie.


2019 Events


The Great Bridges of England

22 Jul 2019 - 6:15pm- 8:15pm

Parking Conference

17 Sep 2019 - 1:00pm- 5:00pm

National Urban Design Conference 2019



Transport for New Homes


New housing and public transport: making the connection
Mon 9 September 2019, 6pm – 8pm
The Gallery, 77 Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6EL


Historic Towns and Villages Forum


Buxton: Resilient Cultural Heritage & the Role of the Visitor Economy

Thursday 17th October 2019

York: Keyhole Surgery - Increasing the Capacity and Performance of Historic Centres

Thursday 21st November 2019




IHBC London Branch / CIfA London – HS2 in London & IHBC London Branch AGM

25 July - 14:00 - 16:55

The Gallery at Alan Baxter Ltd, 75 Cowcross Street


Urban Design London


Greenspace – Co-Designing with Communities

1 August


Academy of Urbanism

Mid-Year Review 19 + Talk: ‘TOWARDS LONDON 3.0’ by Patricia Brown

July 23 @ 3:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Centre for Cities


Housing supply and affordability in high-demand cities

24 July – London

Cities – the First 6000 Years

3 September - London

Civic Voice


Festival of Archaeology


13-28 July

Events across the UK

Future of London


Workshop: Practical Lessons for Community-Led Housing

23 July


Good Homes Alliance


Delivering Net Zero and Future Homes

19 November – London


Kent Design


Achieving Better Design – What Can Councillors Do?

10 September




Visit to Stratford, London Spotlight on key developments

September 2019


Landscape Institute



Museum of Walking


Walks continue through July


Nottingham Urban Room


Radical Places Workshop

29 July


Place Alliance



Healthy City Design 2019

Designing for utopia or dystopia?
People and planetary health at a crossroads

Royal College of Physicians, London, UK,

14–15 October 2019





Graduate Urban Designer


Research Fellowship in the Built Environment - Royal Commission 1851

Researcher, Architectural and Urban History (Heritage Team) - Montagu Evans

5 Bolton St, London W1J 8BA

Graduate (Historic Environment and Townscape), Planning and Development - Montagu Evans

Bolton Street, London, W1J 8BA

Town Planner / Senior Town Planner - Tibbalds


Senior Urban Designer - Mace Design

Urban Designers and Masterplanners - edge Urban Design


Principal Urban Designer - Royal Borough of Greenwich


Urban Design Director - Savills Urban Design Studio



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