Bring on the Judges!

National Urban Design Awards 2021

In May we relaunched the National Urban Design Awards with new categories and simpler submission process. Entries closed on Friday last week so we want to say a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who took the time to enter.

We now look forward to reviewing with our fantastic judging panel. For their time, insight and expertise thanks go in advance to 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 along with our co-chairs, Christopher Martin of Urban Movement | UDG Treasurer and Alan Thompson of AP Thompson Built Environment Consultancy.

A huge thanks also 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 or convening and longlisting the Student Project Award. Not a small undertaking as we had a very healthy number of entries!

We must mention our Book Award panel who 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.

Last year’s lock down gave us the chance to review the previous 10 years of the Awards. In fact we reviewed all 88 shortlisted entries during that time asking ourselves questions like:

  • Why do some schemes stay true to their original aspiration, and others drift?
  • What are the factors that lead to masterplans progressing into development?
  • What leads to scheme being well received by the local community?
  • How do schemes best add to the health and well-being of the people they have been created or provided for?
  • What sort of design guides actually change what is built locally?

The recent 2019 Place Alliance Housing Design Audit identified major problems with poor quality development being approved, even at appeal. Statutory duties, government policy and guidance, and current understanding of best practice are only rarely being translated into action, and it is currently only outstanding development that will withstand the grave tests of the 21st century, such as addressing climate change, carbon neutrality, urban heat islands, mental and physical wellbeing, equalities, car dependence and so on. All communities deserve this quality of development, but the system is failing to deliver. If we can’t address the problems raised by the Housing Design Audit, then we will be failing future generations. So, one of the aims of these new Urban Design Awards is to contribute to bringing an end to poor and mediocre design, and to celebrate the outstanding design that, we must hope, will one day become the norm.

Good luck to everyone who has entered!


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.