Urban Update

Blue Monday Great Urban Quiz 17 Jan

Two new jobs plus opportunities in Melbourne!
AR Urbanism | Citydesigner | The Cyfarthfa Foundation | Lichfields | Planned Resources (Melbourne) | Pegasus Group | Plymouth City Council | Savills Urban Design Studio | Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design | Turley | Urban Green

Happy New Year!

Last year was a tough year for all of us, and 2022 won’t be easy. But we will work through it, and we can all try to play our part in laying the foundations for a more sustainable, more just and happier world.

Outcomes of COP26 : Glasgow Climate Pact

As we look towards a New Year, here is a reminder of the outcome of COP26 - the Glasgow Climate Pact.

1.5 Degrees

“Reaffirms the Paris Agreement temperature goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.”

Seriousness of Situation

“Recognizes that the impacts of climate change will be much lower at the temperature increase of 1.5 °C compared with 2 °C and resolves to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C”

In addition:

  • 46 Countries signed Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement’
  • 20 Countries signed a Statement on International Public Support for the Clean Energy Transition 
  • Emissions trading rules were approved
  • 100 countries pledged to reduce methane emissions

Commentators observed that the commitments fall well short of achieving necessary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030; and the lack of support for island nations that may be destroyed by rising sea levels. 

Many of the world’s cities are built on natural harbours or on lowest crossing point of estuaries. They are immensely vulnerable to rises in sea levels, storms and fluvial flooding. As the atmosphere warms, tropical storms will be able to develop closer to the poles, and their intensity will increase. As air warms, it can hold ever greater quantities of water. The term 'atmospheric river' is becoming increasingly commonplace.

COP27 is scheduled for 7-18 November 2022 in Egypt.


UDG at COP26

Here are some of the presentations from the UDG’s Design Summit at COP26 event (with thanks as always to UrbanNous). You can see full programme on the event page.

Climate Change and the Built Environment: Climate Repair

Tidal Cities: How to float in flooding urban districts

Urban Design for Cleaner Air

Climate Change: Adapting to Increasing Heat

Major Changes in Highways, Motoring and Highway Use in 2022…and beyond

Intelligent Speed Assistance

ISA is to become mandatory in the EU for new vehicles from 6 July 2022. Cars will sense speed limit using a GPS database. Drivers who exceed the speed limit will be alerted to the fact either by the accelerator pedal pushing back on their foot, or lights, sounds or vibration.

Speed limits have traditionally been set at levels highway authorities, the police, and central government transport departments think will be largely self-enforcing. This approach has left the choice of appropriate speed entirely to drivers; with children, pedestrians, cyclists, residents, shop owners, schools and hospitals disregarded. The introduction of Intelligent speed assistance will enable speed limits to be set that reflect the overall interests of society and the economy. 

20mph urban speed limits have been calculated to bring massive social returns and financial returns (as much as 40 percent per annum in hard cash) through improving health, reducing urban congestion, and reducing collisions, damage to property, and injury severity.

15mph limits have been proposed for the City of London with approval sought from the Secretary of State for Transport for introduction by the end of 2022.

ISA will help us move towards the goal of Vision Zero, and may also have an effect on land-use and lifestyles. In England, car use has enabled most of the country to become commutable, turning what were once villages based on farming into housing estates that form part of an ultra-low-density conurbation.  But the network of rural roads and lanes that was created for pedestrians, slow moving livestock, horse-drawn wagons and oxcarts now sees traffic travelling at speeds in excess of 60 mph.

Electric Vehicles

Taking into account carbon emissions in use and during construction, electric vehicles are thought to offer a reduction of up to 70 percent in emissions where the electricity is generated from renewable or zero carbon sources; but only 30 percent where the electricity is generated from conventional sources.

Massive additional electricity generating capacity will be required.

There are concerns over the supply of metals necessary for the construction of batteries, and whether there are sufficient resources to meet global demands, along with very poor working conditions of people involved.

Below 20mph / 30 kph electric cars are quieter than petrol equivalents, and they are much quieter when accelerating; but above 20mph tyre noise predominates, eliminating the advantages.

The fierce acceleration of electric may counter the effect of conventional traffic calming measures. 

UK Highway Code and Other Changes

A User Hierarchy

  • Pedestrians
  • Cyclists
  • Horse riders
  • Motorcyclists
  • Cars/taxis
  • Vans/minibuses
  • Large passenger vehicles/heavy goods vehicles

Rules providing additional protection or consideration for pedestrians include:

“At a junction you (motorcyclists and drivers) should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.”

Rules providing additional protection or consideration for cyclists include advice for motorists not to cut across cyclists when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction. Drivers should pass cyclists and motorcyclists leaving a minimum distance of 1.5 metres if going at speeds under 30mph. and 2 metres for speeds over 30mph.

Pavement Parking Prohibited
In London pavement parking has never been permitted, in Scotland it will be prohibited as from 2023, and in England possibly in 2023.  

Manual for Streets

A revision will be published later in the year. It has proven difficult for highway authorities to translate guidance issued by central government into their own street design and adoption standards. A survey by the UDG conducted in 2018 found that only 20 percent had updated their standards in line with the 2007 edition of Manual for Streets. The reduction of skilled professional staff in local authorities will mean that the problem is even greater. And yet there are things that could be done now, as in the example below.

A straight and level footway with vehicle crossovers that comply with the Equality Act – it is such a simple thing to do, yet the UDG is aware of only three authorities where this is done: Coventry, Southwark, and in the photo above, Essex County Council (well done Essex!). In all other authorities the normal practice is to ignore the advice in Manual for Streets and to extend the vehicle ramp crossfall across the entire width of the footway creating inconvenience for pedestrians and especially disabled, and elderly people, and wheelchair users. This seems such a small and trivial thing, but the conditions for pedestrians matter a lot.

Tree Lined Streets

According to England’s National Planning Policy Framework:

“Planning policies and decisions should ensure that new streets are tree-lined”

Over 100 years ago the British Government issued a Manual on the
Preparation of State-aided Housing Schemes with 10 different street types, all of which were tree lined.

But today it is almost impossible difficult to incorporate trees in streets, owing to conflict with utilities, underfunded highway authorities, and the substantial commuted sums required of developers that put a price on every trunk. To address this problem, the UDG is supporting the Trees and Design Action Group in producing technical guidance on street trees to accompany Manual for Streets; and will campaign for a National Sub-surface Design Code.


Blue Monday Great Urban Quiz
Monday 17 January 2022 @ 18:30-19:30 (via Zoom)

Beat the mid-January blues by donning a fun hat and/or joining our ace Quiz Masters as they tie our noodles in knots with questions on Music, Maps, Plans, Words, News and the Bizarre...

Quiz Masters to be announced!


Other non-UDG Events

English Historic Towns and Villages Forum
Whose Heritiage is it Anyway? – Managing changing historic interpretations…
Thursday 13 January 2022 @12:00-2:00 (webinar)

Opportunities: UDG Careers Board 

Masterplanner / Urban Designer
AR Urbanism | London

Scheme Consultant
Citydesigner | London

Project Director
The Cyfarthfa Foundation | South Wales

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

Urban Designers
Pegasus Group | UK wide

Urban Designers / Masterplanners
Planned Resources | Melbourne, Australia

Project Delivery Officers
Plymouth City Council | Plymouth

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

Graduate Urban Designer / Urban Designer
Urban Green | Manchester

For more details visit the UDG jobs board