Urban Update 1 January 2017

In Brief
Research and Industry News

Urban Design Around the World
Urban Design Events



English Government Names 14 Garden Villages and 3 Garden Towns 

Key points

  • An additional 200,000 homes, or a badging exercise? - As the press release states "garden villages are named" as opposed to these being new schemes entering the planning system for the first time.   Nonetheless media including the Financial Times has reported a Government announcement for 200,000 new homes. 
  • £6 million in funding across the 14 villages - There is a £6million fund to “unlock the full capacity of sites, providing funding for additional resources and expertise to accelerate development and avoid delays.”
  • What is a garden town? – “a development of more than 10,000 homes
  • What is a garden village? – "a settlement of between 1,500 and 10,000 homes.”    

Analysis carried out for Urban Update finds that:

  • Only 1 out of the 14 garden villages has a train station – one (Columpton) with the possibility of a new station
  • 9 are located on a site bounded by a major dual carriageway or motorway, where noise pollution will be an issue.
  • 3 are in open countryside while a fourth fills in a rural gap between two urban areas.

Earlier Government Paper - Locally-Led Garden Villages, Towns and Cities


Press Reaction

Location of 14 New Garden Villages Revealed - Independent

Everything you need to know before moving into one of the government’s ‘garden villages’ - Independent

Garden villages: Locations of first 14 announced - BBC News

Missed opportunities of garden villages plan – better to revive decaying homes in old industrial areas - Guardian Letters

Garden villages to create thousands of UK homes - Fourteen new rural developments part of plan to build up to 200,000 housing units - Financial Times


Cycle Boom – the Oxford Brookes Study into Cycling in the Over 50s – summarised in 5 bullet points by Ben Spencer

  • Policymakers are looking for ways to support and encourage people to stay active for longer. Currently there are low levels of older people cycling in the UK compared to northern Europe.
  • The cycle BOOM study found multiple potential benefits to mobility, health and wellbeing for cyclists aged 50 and over but that they view cycling as dangerous.
  • To enable more older people to cycle in the UK cycle BOOM makes recommendations based on the WHO Age Friendly City domains (http://www.who.int/ageing/age_friendly_cities_guide/en/). These include:
    • Recognising the full potential of cycling for health and wellbeing, and as a mobility tool for older people;
    • Designing outdoor space to offer a safe, comfortable, convenient and enjoyable experience for cycling;
    • Providing secure and convenient cycle storage and street access, and
    • To ‘think beyond the building’ to improve access to neighbourhood services by cycle.
  • Improvements that enable cycling by older people benefit pedestrians, drivers and other cyclists of different ages and abilities. The availability of power-assisted cycles (e-bikes) also provides health and wellbeing benefits on a par with pedal cycles.
  • The Summary Report including full recommendations, Briefing Notes (including one for Planners, Engineers & Designers), participant videos and more outputs are here: http://www.cycleboom.org/outputs/


La Plata Residents Reclaim the Streets and Welcome in the New Year 

From Laura Alvarez - Convenor UDG Midlands

For the last 65 years people in La Plata, Argentina, neighbours have been reclaiming their roads by building up giant models made with wood and paper and packed with fireworks inside. The neighbours gather to toast as they burn the models on the 31st of January at 24:00.

The models are funded by drivers who pass by and leave donations. Watch how it happens here




Built Environment

Urban Design Can Make Winter More Bearable
Edmonton city council hopes to push a new list of recommendations into law to force developers to design for the weather, and to make the city easier to live in when temperatures drop below freezing.
Colonnades, south facing pocket parks, evergreen trees to block the winter wind.  Set backs in building lines to provide shelter from the wind.  Tall buildings kept slim to let through the low winter sun.

How to design a city with mental health in mind

  • Green spaces
  • Active spaces
  • Social spaces
  • Safe spaces
  • Sensory overload
  • Understanding “boringness”

Visual Primer for Social Impact Design

Biophillic Design – report of a recent lecture by Nicole Porter, Nottingham University

Australia launches its first underground waste collection system
A vacuum system produced by Envac is to be installed at Sunshine Coast, Queensland.  The system will collect three waste streams including general, organic and recyclable waste.

Clutter - Extra traffic light pole added to the 19 existing poles on corner of Tuam and High Streets in Christchurch, NZ

On the subject of public conveniences….


Examining the potential and limitations of the 'internet of things' for developing countries


Politics Philosophy, Economics

Does the New UN Urban Agenda adequately equip planners to deal with informal settlements?
To better integrate these settlements into cities globally, they need to be recognized — politically, socially and spatially — and made visible through the gaze of mapping and research.
“Deal with” seems a bit of a loaded term however. 

Suburban Sprawl – an enemy of the left?

Visualising Inequality using maps


Humans, Health, Society

Modern life responsible for ‘worrying’ health in middle aged
Eight out of 10 of the middle aged either weigh too much, drink too much or don’t exercise enough, as new analysis from Public Health England (PHE) out today 

Diesel cars should be phased out to stop pollution deaths, says Chief Medical Officer 

Five ways public-private partnerships can build healthier cities

Brain tests predict children's futures - BBC
In a longitudinal study of 1,000 children in New Zealand, those who had low test scores for language, behavioural, movement and cognitive skills at three years old went on to account for more than 80% of crimes, required 78% of prescriptions and received 66% of social welfare payments in adulthood.

The Case for Healthy Places – PPS report
This is a 100 page review of research on health places.  

How High-Tech Archaeology is Transforming Our View of History – including rediscovery of lost towns and the reappraisal of existing knowledge


Uber's vision for the future of transportation - Business Insider

How driverless cars are set to reinvent and humanise our streets - Business Insider

Self-driving cars will pave way for people-friendly streets, says study
Pedestrians, Autonomous Vehicles and Cities
 - University of California  






Urban Design Awards Messisauga, Canada
Unfortunately some of these awards excel in one area only, such as environmental performance. The test of good urban design should be excellence in all aspects, not just one.

Improving Centennial Square, Victoria, BC



An Indian state wants to build a modern city that looks like an ancient kingdom
“In the early 1950s, when Kengal Hanumanthaiah was chief minister of Mysore, a Russian delegation visited Bangalore. On being taken around the city, some of the Russian members repeatedly asked him: “Have you no architecture of your own? The ones you have are all European buildings.”……

This aspiration will be welcomed by anyone who is tired of the uniformity of globalized styles of architecture and urban design.  But some might also say the same of the ubiquity of Greek Revival architecture in the 18th and 19th century.

Elevated Metro for Pune



Limerick rugby centre poses new question of urban design



Sustainable Urban Design: Rotterdam’s Route of becoming a World Leader as an Experimental City



England’s Hidden Architectural Gems - BBC
The Leeds Library, Cambridge Bhuddist centre, Singers hill synagogue, the Black Horse Hotel, Preston

Draft Manchester Residential Quality Guidance
Download Consultation Version

LUC to lead Irvine High Street regeneration alongside Peter Brett Associates

400 Homes recommended for approval in Ash – Guildford Borough Council      

Tibbalds sponsors Gingerbread City

Winchester tops UK quality of life league – Halifax Building society

Hull University Development proposals



White House releases strategy for deep decarbonization by 2050
The strategy has been released by an Obama Whitehouse, not a Trump Whitehouse, and so may carry limited weight.

Chicago Riverwalk

How a California City Got Pedestrians to Make Their Own Master Plan




Urban Design London

Events coming up – extensive programme some free, some charged/ £175+VAT (Free for UDL subscribers)


Academy of Urbanism


Future of London

Making the most of Build to Rent – Report launch

note new date

19 January, 8:30-11am at The Foundry, Vauxhall –


Good Homes Alliance


Museum of Walking


Place Alliance



University of Westminster


London Exhibitions




Design South East / Kent Design

Event Calendar

Masterclass: Assessing Housing Schemes

9 February 2017

Drivers of Distinctiveness: Maximising the Heritage and Culture Potential of Place
23 February 23, 2017





BOBMK Events

Other events 

From Visions of Utopia to Lipstick on the Gorilla

Wolfson College Lecture series

Concrete to the Rescue - 16 Feb 2017

Dreams of Machines - 23 Feb 2017

Putting Lipstick on the Gorilla - 04 May 2017




2-day Conference, Liverpool 22 - 23 March 2017, now in its 3rd year





West Midlands Urban Design Forum



Architecture and Design Scotland



Design Commission for Wales


Centre for Cities

Urban Room 101

UDG hosts its most unpopular ever Festive Event

Organised by Philp Cave, compered by Rob Cowan the event took the theme of George Orwell's book 1984.  Room 101 is the room which is placed the inidividual's greatest nightmare, fear or phobia.  On offer were:

Empty houses
Leo Hammond

Non-Disclosure Agreements
Cany Ash

The Car
Erin Walsh

Parking Courts
Brian Quinn

Euan Mills

Amanda Reynolds

Places that say NO
Rosanna Vitiello

The inadequacies of A4 Paper 
Oliver Goodall

On the basis of the booing decible level, Leo Hammond walked away with a dinner voucher, and Cany Ash, a bottle of champagne.  We are grateful to Marshalls for hosting the evening and for providing the prizes.