Urban design

What is urban design?

Urban design has been described as the art of making places for people. It is concerned with how places function, not just how they look, and the processes that ensure successful places are delivered and maintained.

Urban design considers the relationship between movement and the physical form of buildings, streets and neighbourhoods. It also considers the connection between nature and the built environment. In doing so it brings together a variety of subjects relating to the built environment, for example:

  •    planning
  •    transportation
  •    architecture
  •    development economics
  •    sustainability
  •    landscape
  •    engineering
  •    public realm

Good urban design brings many benefits – economic, environmental and social – including public health benefits. The Government’s National Planning Policy Framework states that good design ‘is indivisible from good planning’. Bristol’s Local Plan supports this through Core Strategy Policy BCS21 which aims to ensure that new development in Bristol delivers high quality urban design

City Design Group

Shaping quality places

The practice of urban design is central to the City Design Group service. The Group comprises three multi-disciplinary teams:

  • Place Shaping
  • Urban Design; and
  • Engineering Design

The City Design Group helps to shape new quality places throughout Bristol and improve the quality of existing neighbourhoods and sites.

City Design Group services

Our services include:

  • Archaeology: our specialists provide advice and guidance to planning officers, community groups, residents and developers. We assess the archaeological implications of planning applications and provide information about Bristol's historic environment. We have recently launched the web based resource Know Your Place.  We also advise on planning policy and guidance within the Bristol Development Framework.
  • City Design Initiative (pdf, 2.3 MB)(opens new window) (pdf, 2.3MB) (opens new window) : we are promoting better recognition of the value of urban design and its outcomes. We are developing new approaches to urban design practice within the City Council. The initiative promotes good urban design across the city. We are working with the Bristol Urban Design Forum and Bristol Architecture Centre to achieve this.
  • Community Involvement (pdf, 2.9 MB)(opens new window) (pdf, 2.9MB) (opens new window) : we work with community groups to develop strategies for improving neighbourhoods and guiding new development. Understanding local views and identifying opportunities for delivering positive change is part of our approach.
  • Conservation: our specialists provide advice and guidance to planning officers, community groups, residents and developers. We assess the implications of planning applications on Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas. We are responsible for determining Listed Building applications. We also advise on planning policy and guidance within the Development Framework.
  • Legible City: originated by our urban designers in the 1990’s the Legible City is a unique concept. It aims to improve people's understanding and experience of the city. We have delivered numerous supporting projects and manage the pedestrian signing and information system. These projects have included public art, physical improvements to streets and spaces and information design.
  • Landscape Design (pdf, 3.8 MB)(opens new window) (pdf, 3.8MB) (opens new window) : our chartered landscape architects design and deliver landscape and public realm improvement projects. This service is available to client teams across the council and to external organisations. Our work spans education, housing, parks, public space and historic landscape contexts.
  • Physical Regeneration (Place-shaping) (pdf, 2.2 MB)(opens new window) (pdf, 2.2MB) (opens new window) : our multi disciplinary team provides advice and carry out area or site based projects. We produce vision documents, master plans, development briefs, and public realm strategies. Through these we plan, design and deliver physical improvements to neighbourhoods. This service is available to client teams across the council and to external organisations.
  • Public Art (pdf, 4.2 MB)(opens new window) (pdf, 4.2MB) (opens new window) : we provide specialist advice to planning officers, developers, design teams and community groups. We advise on the planning and procurement of public art negotiated via the planning process. We also commission art works for clients across the council and for external organisations.
  • Urban Design Advice (pdf, 1.9 MB)(opens new window) (pdf, 1.9MB) (opens new window) : our urban designers provide advice to planning officers, developers and community groups. They advise on the urban design aspects of planning applications.  We also help shape planning policy and undertake specific project commissions.
  • Street Greens (pdf, 2.5 MB)(opens new window) (pdf, 2.5MB) (opens new window) :  City Design Group work with local communities and other stakeholders to transform streets and places in imaginative and low cost ways; helping to make Bristol’s streets more economically resilient, people-friendly and biodiverse.

Our work

City Design Group work and selected projects.

Contact information

City Design Group

City Hall

Bristol City Council, PO Box 3176

Bristol, BS1 5UY

Opening Hours

Email: citydesigngroup@bristol.gov.uk

Tel: 0117 922 3366