Urban Update

New guide from the UDG

3 day course endorsed by the UDG

Increased motor fuel costs found to have reduced wave of low density greenfield development in the USA - plus much more


How to Make People Friendly Places

New guide from the Urban Design Group

Written with an audience of MPs, councillors and clients in mind, How to Make People Friendly Places uses the work of the winners and finalists of the 2021 National Urban Design Awards to illustrate overall best practice in urban design and how it can be translated into action. 

The challenges we face are well known within the urban design community, but less well understood outside it. Surveys such as the Place Alliance’s Housing Design Audit for England have shown the design of schemes to be 'overwhelmingly mediocre or poor'. How to Make People Friendly Places warns that location determines design.

Repeated studies by organisations such as Transport for New Homes, and the Royal Town Planning Institute show that development is taking place in the wrong places, with the 15/20 minute neighbourhood failing to materialise.

The consequences include extreme car dependency, the requirement for large areas of highway and car parking, further areas of land needed to deal with the run-off from these surfaces, and other impacts such as unhealthy lifestyles and permanent damage to the environment.

The guide stresses the need to build in the right places.

A focus on action

How to Make People Friendly Places focuses on the practical steps that need to be taken to produce better quality towns and cities - and the Award winners and finalists prove that it can be done.

The guide invites politicians and decision makers to think in terms of a cascade from national polices and guidance through to completed schemes.

  1. Implement the right policies and guidance
  2. Use urban design frameworks
  3. Deliver using masterplans
  4. The result: People Friendly Places

The guide also offers the views on best practice provided by the Award judges including:

  • Have a vision and carry it through
  • Use design guardians to ensure the vision is carried through and not diluted
  • Create a team and keep it together  
  • Be a good client
  • Think beyond the site and how a scheme can add to and benefit from the surrounding area - only choose sites where there will be a sufficient range of workplaces, parks, leisure facilities and shops within a 10-20 minute walking/cycling distance 
  • Establish one stop shops for planning, development control and highways dc and adoption
  • Tackle the climate crisis
  • Repair the damage caused by heavy road infrastructure

A guide for everyone

One of the major challenges is to help society as a whole understand planning, urban design, and all the components that go to make a people friendly place. Professionals often complain about the lack of political leadership, but one of the main problems is that there are barriers that stop non-professionals from understanding. And how can anyone possibly lead in an area they don’t understand? The finalists went to great trouble to write about their entries in an accessible way, using normal language rather than technical jargon, and to create easy to understand illustrations that show that better cities, towns and villages are within reach. These are skills we can all develop, and will be reflected in future editions of How to Make People Friendly Places.

A programme of events for councillors and clients will be developed over coming weeks. 

Winners in key 'cascade' categories

National Model Design Code
Nansledan, Newquay
ADAM Architecture
Love Wolverton
Sauchiehall Street
Urban Movement

Thanks go to

Co Chairs: Christopher Martin | Alan Thompson
Judges: Jas Bhalla | Jane Dann | Roger Evans | Helen Forman | Peter Frankum | Tim Hagyard | Emma Spierin | Deb Upadhyaya
Student Project shortlisting panel: Patricia Aelbrecht | Husam AlWaer | Philip Black
Book Award judges: Dick Cole (Chair) | Georgia Butina-Watson | Geoff Noble | Judith Ryser | Katja Stille



Looking for a short course in Urban Design?

3-Day Comprehensive Foundation Certificate in Urban Design
Endorsed by the Urban Design Group
20-22 June 2022 | Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Discounted rate available for public sector workers

This course deals with urban design, but you don’t need to live or work in a city to benefit from it. We welcome all applications from rural areas, as this course benefits anybody with an interest in planning and design for the built environment. Inclusivity is at the heart of what we do.

  • There are no entry-level qualifications
  • The course is delivered through a range of classroom/lecture theatre-type learning, site visits, and walking tours
  • The course takes place in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom, and learners must attend in person for the duration of the 3-day course
  • There will be virtual post-course sessions to consolidate your learning and to help you apply your new skills in the real world
  • The course is delivered in English both verbally and written

The course is UK-based, but its content is transferrable to global contexts



Other Non-UDG Events

Kent Design
2-Day Online Urban Design School
Thursday 10 - Friday 11 February 2022 @ 10:00-15:00 both days

Trees and Design Action Group
Connecting urban green space, health and climate
Monday 2 February 2022 @ 15:00-17:00

How can we make the connection between urban and peri-urban green space, human health, & climate change? Open to all.

  • With Kathy Wolf: How can we optimise the climate and human health outcomes of urban forestry to provide professionals who are working at the intersection of climate, public health and urban forestry with resources to support climate adaptation planning and activities?
  • With Julia Thrift: Is it time to radically rethink the purpose of England’s green belts to improve their accessibility, quality and benefits to people, the environment and the economy?

Webinar: Planning for education in new places
Thursday 24 February 2022 @ 10:00-11:30

Kent Design
Masterclass: Shaping Liveable Neighbourhoods: Delivering well-designed, higher density neighbourhoods
Tuesday 15 March 2022 @ 9:30-12:00


News + Research

Politics, Philosophy, Economics

Are transport specialists practising self-deception?
The perils of optimism bias and the risk of not realising the gravity of future challenges

European building activity determined from tree-ring-dated historical timber

Image credit F. Ljungqvist, A. Seim, W. Tegel et al

How to read the graph: Under the 'Normal distribution', the first standard deviation represents 34.1% of the size of the sample, and the second a further 13.6%. The graph shows, for example, that at the time of the Black Death, the number of felling dates declined by over two standard deviations, implying that building activity had declined by over two standard deviations – or more that 47.7%.  

In the British Isles, there had been a wave of new town formation in the 13th and 14th centuries, but for the 250 years following the Black Death 1348, there was nothing, with Derry Londonderry, being one of the first in around 1610.  Plague remained endemic in Europe until the late 1600s.

New framework accounts for how moral character promotes ethical decision making

Energy, Climate Change

How to engage the public on achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions

VCOs (Voluntary Carbon Offsets) and air travel


Inclusive Mobility: A Guide to Best Practice on Access to Pedestrian and Transport Infrastructure - published by DfT
This supersedes the original Inclusive Mobility guidance document first published by the Department for Transport (DfT) in 2002 but does not change the principles underpinning it.

Guidance on the Use of Tactile Paving Surfaces
The DfT has also published this which covers both streetscapes and railway platforms.

West Sussex Council reinstates withdrawn cycle lane following Equality Act and statutory guidance challenge

Towards greener urban freight - report by the Urban Transport Group
Report advocates shift from road to rail and water; use of local hubs, and ZEVs for final delivery.

Humans, Health, Society

Schools and the pandemic - using simulations to explore the best ways to control and reduce the spread of infection

COVID Threatens to Bring a Wave of Hikikomori – a syndrome of extreme social isolation

Excessive social media use linked with poor physical health 
A study of over 250 students has found that participants who used social media excessively had higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biological marker of chronic inflammation that predicts serious illnesses, such as diabetes, certain cancers, and cardiovascular disease. The more participants used social media, the more somatic symptoms they experienced and visits to the doctor they reported.

Previous research has found that people with high self-esteem benefited from using social media, while people low in self-esteem did not.

The people wanting to discard their smartphones

Physical activity monitors shown to have impact on physical activity
The interventions showed a moderate effect on physical activity (equivalent to 1,235 daily steps), a small effect on moderate to vigorous physical activity (equivalent to 48.5 weekly minutes) and a small but insignificant effect on sedentary time (equal to 9.9 daily minutes).

Built Environment

Where does placemaking fit into post-pandemic life ?
What Merton Council are doing

UK could grow up to 40% of its own fruit and vegetables by using urban green spaces

Increasing motor fuel prices over 2000-2015 US led to reduction in use of greenfield site development
A new study found a steep decline in the development of forest and agricultural land from 2000 to 2015 compared to the previous two decades, which resulted in a broad shift towards denser development patterns throughout the U.S, with the principal factor being the increased cost of motor fuel. People have sought to reduce commuting costs.

Image: Jan Michalko, University of Potsdam

Comparing the climate, eco-system, and social impact of four communal gardens in Germany
The study found that there was significant potential to reduce climate impacts and heat stress



Levelling up White Paper believed to be delayed to mid February

Active Travel England announced – Chris Boardman interim Commissioner
Further details soon

Fifth of UK councils have not published a plan to tackle climate change despite many declaring a climate emergency, new research has uncovered

Cycling infrastructure insights paper - ICE


Louisiana’s $2 Billion Gamble - Flood the Land to Save the Coast
A new engineering project would bring much needed land to eroding marshes but at a huge cost to the fishing industry


Opportunities: UDG Careers Board 

Landscape Architect / Urban Designer
Buckinghamshire Council | Buckinghamshire 

Design Champion and Specialist Services Manager
East Suffolk Council | Lowestoft or Melton

Urban Designer / Senior Urban Designer
LHC Design | Exeter or Plymouth

Townscape and Visual Impact Assessment (TVIA) | Consultant/Senior Consultant
Lichfields | London

Urban Designer
The Paul Hogarth Company | Dublin or Belfast

Urban Designer / Residential Layout Designer
Pegasus Group | Leeds

Urban Designer
Pegasus Group | Lockington

Urban Designers / Masterplanners
Planned Resources | Melbourne

Regeneration Specialist
PRP Architects | London

Associate Director / Director
Savills Urban Design Studio | London

Senior / Associate Urban Designer
Savills Urban Design Studio | Oxford

Associate Director
Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design | London

Consultant / Senior Consultant - Townscape, Landscape and VIA
Turley | London

Urban Designer
Urban Green | Manchester

For more details visit the UDG jobs board