National Urban Design Awards 2021

Now Open for Entries!!​

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).


30 June 2021Student Project 
16 July 2021 : Frameworks + Masterplans | Policy, Strategy + Design Guidance | People Friendly Place | Innovation

Local Authorities | Government Departments | Community Organisations | Students (attending registered universites or individual members)


We will announce winners in October. 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

Frameworks + Masterplans

  • 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

Policy, Strategy + Design Guidance

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

People Friendly Place


Any completed project of any size that can be said to be truly people friendly.

£1,000 Francis Tibbalds Trust Discretionary Grant

Student Project


For individual or group project work in any UK University (and Ireland) previously registered with the UDG or for individuals with UDG Student membership. Deadline 30 June 2021

£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.


Nods To Excellence

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


Entry Fees

£60 UDG Registered Practices
£120 Other Practices (non-members)

Local Authorities, Government Departments | Community Organisations | Students (attending registered universites or individual members)



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.



Further judges will be announced very soon but in the meantime we're really thrilled that Jane Dann, Managing Director of Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design and Jas Bhalla, Jas Bahlla Architects will be bringing their experience and insight to the judging panel.

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 contributon 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. 

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 Stephan Lawrence Trust in 2020

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.


Additional Awards

Outstanding Contribution to Urban Design


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.

Book Award

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.



If you have any queries or problems, please do get in touch with us:

Robert Huxford, Director or Jacqueline Swanson, Manager  020 7250 0892

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