National Urban Design Awards 2021

Shortlist to be announced in September!

Good urban design is interdisciplinary: a fusion of professional expertise and public and political insight and energy. The National Urban Design Awards are therefore open to any UK practice, organisation, local authority or branch of government, UK based students and UDG International Practice and Local Authority members.

After a short hiatus our relaunch brings new categories that reflect the different types of work undertaken by practitioners in urban design from policies, urban design frameworks and masterplans through to built schemes, with criteria based on real-world design guidance/standards and statutory duties.

We are as always immensely grateful for the continuing support of the Francis Tibbalds Trust who generously provide a £600 prize for the winner of the Student Project Award. A discretionary grant of up to £1,000 will also be available to the winner of the People Friendly Place Award to be used to support the furthering of people friendly work or projects (in agreement with the judges).

We will announce winners in October/ November. This may take place at a stand alone celebratory event or as part of an online National Urban Design Conference. For now we are keeping the options open - much will depend on the viability of in person gatherings later in the year!

Shortlisted candidates will also be invited to create an article for the URBAN DESIGN journal for publication in January 2022.


Awards Categories


  • Large Scale  with over approx 1,000 buildings or other major proposal eg town centre regeneration, urban regeneration scheme etc
  • Mid Scale  with fewer than 1,000 buildings



For policies, strategiessupplementary planning documents, and design guidance, and any other work intended to promote or ensure quality urban design.



Built Projects - any completed project of any size that can be said to be truly people friendly.
£1,000 Francis Tibbalds Trust Discretionary Grant



For individual or group project work in any UK University (and Ireland) previously registered with the UDG or for individuals with UDG Student membership. 
£600 Francis Tibbalds Trust Prize



For new tools, methods or technologies that support urban design, ranging from community involvement methods through to digital design and planning, advance mapping or computer techniques.



Across the last 5 issues of the URBAN DESIGN journal (Summer 155 - Summer 159) we have published 25 book reviews: for the 2021 Book Award the Editorial Board will nominate a shortlist of books from this selection. Read the reviews here.




Who and what has stood the test of time?

  • Innovative schemes that took risks, broke ground and became an exemplar
  • An individual or organisation who have made an outstanding contribution as practitioner, policy maker, activist, journalist...

Nominations are invited from the UDG membership and the winner selected by the UDG Awards Committee.



In additional to the above categories, a small number of entries that have truly excelled in a particular area, or have broken new ground, may be given a special award. Examples might include:  

  • Process  including working with the local community
  • Inclusive Design  design for all ages, or different backgrounds or abilities
  • Community + Social Cohesion
  • Efficiency  of design, layout and land-use
  • Lifespan, Resilience + Adaptability
  • Infrastructure + Servicing
  • Energy
  • Mixed use
  • Character + Identity
  • Climate Responsive Design
  • BlueGreen Infrastructure / Nature



We're delighted that Jas Bhalla of Jas Bhalla Architects; Jane Dann, Managing Director of Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design; Roger Evans of Studio REAL; Helen Forman of West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Peter Frankum, Director and National Head of Savills Urban Design; Tim Hagyard, Planning Manager for CPRE (Herts) | URBAN DESIGN journal Editorial Board; Emma Spierin of O'Mahony Pike Architects; and Dr Deb Upadhyaya of Homes England and will be bringing their experience and insight to the judging panel along with our co-chairs, Christopher Martin of Urban Movement | UDG Treasurer and Alan Thompson of AP Thompson Built Environment Consultancy.

Also, a huge thanks to Dr Patricia Aelbrecht of Cardiff University, Dr Philip Black of the University of Manchester University, and Dr Husam AlWaer of the University of Dundee for convening and longlisting the Student Project Award. 

Our Book Award panel are currently doing some worthy summer reading - thank you to judging chair, Dick Cole with Georgia Butina-Watson, Geoff Noble, Judith Ryser and Katja Stille.

Christopher Martin (Co-Chair)  Urban Movement, Director of Strategy

Christopher Martin is Co-Founder and Director of Urban Strategy at Urban Movement, and a fully qualified Urban Designer and Planner, experienced in leading complex urban projects; focusing on public realm, streets and transport. 

Chris is UDG Treasurer and on the URBAN DESIGN Journal Editorial Board. He is also a Trustee of Living Streets; a member of the Placemaking Leadership Council at Project for Public Spaces; a member of London design review panels; and has been a lecturer and tutor at The Bartlett School of Planning and Architecture for a number of years.

Alan Thompson (Co-Chair) AP Thompson Built Environment Consultancy

Alan has over 25 years’ experience in Architecture and Urban Design and is Principal of AP Thompson Built Environment Consultancy.

Alan acquired expert design advisory skills while serving as a Senior Government Advisor at the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and as Head of Design Review at the UK Design Council. 

Jas Bhalla  Jas Bhalla Architects

In 2020 Jas was recognised as one of the Architect Journal’s '40 under 40' and is on the design review panels for Essex, Hounslow and Redbridge.

With over 13 years of experience in masterplanning, strategic urbanism, and architectural design at all scales, his practice, Jas Bhalla Architects, has a growing reputation for affordable housing design and policy, having won the William Sutton Prize in 2019 and the Housing for a Better World competition established by Brick by Brick and the Stephen Lawrence Trust in 2020.

Jane Dann  Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Managing Director

As an architect, planner and urban designer Jane has more than 30 years' experience in practice and advisory roles. Through her work she promotes the role and contribution made by local context and heritage - she has been appointed to the Historic England Places Panel and sits on the London Advisory Committee.

Jane also led the consultant team that worked collaboratively with MHCLG to produce the new National Design Code. 

Roger Evans  Urban Designer, Architect, Town Planner

Roger designs and writes about the built environment.

He is a former tutor in urban design at Oxford Brookes, founded the consultancy and research practice studio REAL, has served as an external examiner on post graduate urban design courses, sits on several design review panels and is a past chair and trustee of the UDG. He is a keen cyclist and urban sketcher.

Helen Forman  West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Urban Design Lead

Helen is an architect and housing professional with a career spanning the public, private and third sectors. Now the urban design lead at West Yorkshire Combined Authority, she is helping to build design capacity in its districts, through training and advice.

Helen has expertise in the impacts of housing development on health and physical activity, particularly in children.

Peter Frankum  Savills Urban Design Studio, Director and National Head

Peter chairs the southern branch of the UDG, is an academician of The Academy of Urbanism and member of several design panels. He speaks nationally at conferences and events, with a focus on delivering quality development and regeneration.

His CV includes work in both the public and private sector, specialising in regeneration, master planning, urban design and public consultation.

Tim Hagyard  CPRE Herts, Planning Manager

Tim Hagyard  has worked as a planner and urban designer within local government for almost thirty years and more recently as a planning manager with CPRE Hertfordshire.

He is a long standing member of the URBAN DESIGN Journal Editorial Board, a keen long distance walker and author of related blogs and books.

Emma Spierin  O'Mahoney Pike Architects Dublin, Urban Designer

Emma has worked on all scales of project from individual houses to large masterplans and strategic infrastructure projects. Before her current role with O'Mahony Pike in Dublin, Emma worked in mainland China and London, in public and private sector roles.

Professionally Emma has an interest in sustainable density as a solution to urban sprawl, urban agriculture, and the interplay between inequality, urban planning, climate change and resilient cities. 

Dr Deb Upadhyaya  Homes England

Deb is a professionally trained architect, urban designer and planner, leading delivery of exemplar large scale and complex housing, regeneration and garden communities’ projects both in the public and private sector, for over 20 years. 

A passionate advocate of sustainable urbanism, delivery of quality places and value creation through collaboration/ design led innovation, he champions inclusion and diversity as the fundamental building blocks of delivering resilient built environments for the future.

Judging Criteria

The judging criteria are the principles advocated in current and long standing best practice on design quality including:

  • 10 Timeless Principles
    Making People Friendly Towns Francis Tibbalds 1992
  • 10 Characteristics of well-designed places
    National Design Guide MHCLG 2021
  • 3 Perpetual Principles  fit for purpose; durable; brings delight
    Vitruvius circa 30-15BC (quoted in the National Design Guides)

10 Timeless Principles 10  Characteristics of Well-Designed Places
  • Places matter most
  • Learn the lessons of the past
  • Encourage the mixing of uses and activities
  • Design on a human scale
  • Encourage pedestrian freedom
  • Provide access for all
  • Build legible environments
  • Build lasting envirnoments
  • Control change
  • Contribute to the greater whole
  • Context  enhances the surroundings
  • Identity  attractive and distinctive
  • Built Form  a coherent pattern of development
  • Movement  accessible and easy to move around
  • Nature  enhanced and optimised
  • Public Spaces  safe, social and inclusive
  • Uses  mixed and integrated
  • Homes and Buildings  functional, healthy and sustainable
  • Resources  efficient and resilient
  • Lifespan  made to last
Making People-Friendly Towns  
Francis Tibbalds 1992
National Design Guide 2021 England

There are also design requirements that are written into legislation including:

  • Climate Change the current statutory duty on climate change adaption and mitigation, and the objective of net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. This requirement will exclude entries in locations where normal life is only possible with ownership and use of a car.
  • Socio-economic Inequality
  • Equalities promotion of equality of opportunity and elimination of discrimination including age, disability, race, gender etc
  • Public Health
  • Crime + Disorder
  • Safety

The Awards want to recognise places which address issues such as the climate emergency; collaboration; inclusion and social cohesion and in doing so have created places where people really want to work, play and live.

The National Urban Design Awards are not given for perfection but for endeavour in the face of difficulties

Good urban design can be difficult to achieve, especially where the property market is weak, or where political or public aspirations are limited. It is rare that a scheme will be able to achieve perfection in all aspects.

The judges understand this, and the compromises that need to be made to turn a visionary design into something is politically, financially and practically achievable. They will look for schemes where the entrants have tried to respond, as best they may, to these timeless principles of good design, given the particular challenges.

Find out more about National Urban Awards History and Past Winners.