Other Manuals and Briefings

The Design Deficit

Design skills and design governance approaches in English local authorities
Place Alliance

This report summarises the findings of a short survey of urban design skills and approaches within England’s local planning authorities, and how they have changed over time. A response rate of 71% was achieved.

Reviewing the evidence, it is possible to conclude that whilst urban design and related skills in local authorities have stabilised, they remain at a low ebb and far below where they need to be in order to address the ambitious national agenda on raising the design quality of new development. Signs of the growing use of design review and design codes are positive, but recruitment of design officers into local government remains challenging, proactive community engagement in design is minimal, and design related training remains basic.

At the current rate of change it will take until 2077 to have at least one urban design officer in every local planning authority in England.



Funded by the Urban Design Group and supported by the Design Council, the research reports on:

  • Design capacity in local planning
  • Funding and recruitment challenges
  • The use of design review, design codes and proactive community engagement in design
  • The use of design guidance and training
The Design Deficit Publication Urban Design Group