National Urban Design Conference 2023

Thursday 12 October 2023 (All day) to Friday 13 October 2023 (All day)

Rethinking Place

This two day not-for-profit event is the first National Urban Design Conference for four years.  We will be reflecting on the dramatic changes that have occurred over that period and how towns and cities need to be rethought and reimagined to meet the challenges. 


       Tom Hunt, Leader, Sheffield City Council

       Sarah Allan, Head of Architecture at Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities 

        and over thirty other leading speakers

Download the Full Programme

Sheffield Peace Gardens : The conference takes place in Sheffield, which has many examples of sustained multi-decade regeneration and reinvention.  


Sponsored tickets for local authorities - see below

Day 1 Thursday 12 October

Millennium Galleries, Arundel Gate Sheffield S1 2PP - 6 minutes' walk from the railway station

  • Regeneration

  • Streets
  • Neighbourhoods
  • Urban Design Awards Category Finalists - Masterplans - Design Codes - Guidance - Completed Schemes

The Sheffield Story – Mark Mobbs, Marketing Sheffield
Sheffield approach – Tammy Whitaker, Sheffield City Council
New Neighbourhoods  – Joanne Cave, David Lock Associates
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – Chris Martin – Urban Movement
Net Zero Neighbourhoods – Chris Thompson, CITU
Sustainable Neighbourhoods – Caleb Jones – Planet IE
Rethinking Streets and Movement  – Ana McMillin, Broadway Malyan
Green Blue Urban  – Speaker to be confirmed
Resilient Streets – Zac Tudor, Arup
Reimagining the In Between – Phillippa Banister, StreetSpace
Streets for a Healthy Life  – Katie Parry, Homes England
Streets: State of the Art Review  – Leah Stuart, Civic Engineers
Rethinking Practice – Simone Gobber Stantec
Rethinking Neighbourhoods  – Husam Al Waer – University of Dundee

More speakers to be announced 


Day 1 : Conference Dinner: Urban Design Feast

Taking place at "The Mowbray" one of Sheffield's most interesting regeneration venues, 118 Mowbray St, Neepsend, Sheffield S3 8EN


Day 2 Friday 13 October 2023

Showroom Workstation – Sheffield’s independent Cinema - Paternoster Row, Sheffield City Centre, Sheffield S1 2BX – 2 minutes’ walk from the railway station.

  • Strategic Planning and Growth
  • Reuse vs demolition and rebuild
  • Health and well-being
  • The role of local authorities
  • Centres: town centres, high streets, neighbourhood centres, and centres in new development

Speakers Include:

Rethinking the way we shape towns and cities  – Roger Evans
Rethinking High Streets – Toby Hyam
Repurposing at the neighbourhood scale – Jane Manning, Allies and Morrison
Zero carbon housing  – Michael Jones, City of York Council
Council housing – A long-term perspective – Leo Hammond, Haringey Council
Championing Design and Placemaking in Local Authorities – Chris King East Suffolk Council
Creating Well-designed places in Scotland – What does it take – Robert Richardson, University of Glasgow
Improving Design Quality through the Planning System – Doncaster Case Study – Jordan Butler, Doncaster Council
Producing design codes in the public sector – Greeshma Girish Broxbourne Borough Council
Design Coding – John Stiles, Brent Council
Citizen engagement – Maptionnaire
21st century urban design for well-being and resilience | Let’s code for it! Together – Angela Koch, Imagine Places
Pandemic Play Spaces: Rethinking Places in Times of Crisis through Play – Michael Martin University of Sheffield
A rating tool evaluating urban design features for active healthy living  – Eleni Tracada, University of Derby
Active Travel  – Dan Crane – Active Travel England
Placemaking 101 – the fundamentals of placemaking based on environmental psychology – Jonathan Tarbatt, Corstorphine & Wright Architects
What to do with department stores  – Mark Latham, Urban Splash
Creating Centres in New Development – Julia Wallace, Otterpool Park LLP


Day 3 Saturday Morning Guided Walks

Including the Grey to Green project, and Sheffield's main city centre and public realm programmes, including Castlegate and the "Heart of the City".


We warmly welcome everyone and anyone, from any background, with an interest in the design and improvement of towns and cities, streets and spaces. 

Non-members – If you are not yet a member, do check whether it would save you money to join the Urban Design Group.  (Membership takes immediate effect on receipt of payment.) 

UDG Members – save 35 % on the standard ticket prices*  UDG Member

UDG Registered Practices - bring half or more of the professional staff in the office and save 38 % on the standard ticket prices* - you can bring any member of staff, and guests at these rates.   UDG Registered Practice - Bring the Office

*excludes the conference dinner – which is offered at cost.

Local Authorities - sponsored tickets Further details and booking 



Standard rate

UDG Members

UDG Registered Practice - Bring the Office

Package 1 Full Conference




Package 2 Day 1+Dinner




Package 3 Dinner+ Day 2




Day 1 Conference




Day 2 Conference




Dinner only






A people friendly event....  run to make a difference.... not a profit. 


Book your hotel accommodation for the event

Sheffield City Council has very kindly made a hotel booking facility available to help delegates attending the conference.

Reservations can be made using the web address below until 28 days prior to the event start date. On this date some hotels will choose to leave unsold rooms on the system, or they may remove them. The site will close fully 14 days prior to the event start date.

The special link for accommodation is here


There have been huge changes since the last conference in 2019 that call into question our understanding of how towns and cities work and should be designed, including:

  • the shift towards home-working
  • the rapid acceleration during lockdown of internet retail, the hollowing out of local shops and high streets, and the near extinction of department stores
  • the loss of consumer spending from central business districts, in favour of suburbs and smaller towns.
  • controversy over low traffic neighbourhoods, a “war on motorists”, and ultra-low emission zones, versus the health, safety and wellbeing of children and communities at large.
  • conspiracy theorists attacking 15 minute cities and 20 minute neighbourhoods as means to remove freedom and control lives.

and this is on top of all the existing challenges such as

  • climate change
  • the 2050 net zero 2050 target
  • the shortfall in house-building
  • the continued focus on low-density car-dependent housing built away from shops, jobs and facilities
  • the need for balanced economic growth – including production as well as consumption.

So its an opportunity for Rethinking, and to renew our resolve to make progress.