Urban Initiatives Studio provides the full range of urban planning and design services across the FULL URBAN SPECTRUM: from strategic thinking at wider city, town and district level to the development of specific urban design solutions at neighbourhood, block, street and building scales. Our business is to deliver innovative ideas and achievable solutions for our clients in the public and private sector, or both working together.
Our work for LOCAL AUTHORITIES includes preparing framework plans for areas of change, developing growth strategies, undertaking characterisation and building heights studies, preparing town centre regeneration strategies, and testing the capacity and feasibility of development sites. We write policy statements and prepare supplementary planning guidance, and our work often serves as an evidence base for Local Plans. We assist Local Authorities with the planning of regeneration initiatives and opportunities for the re-use of Council’s assets.
We help DEVELOPERS and LANDOWNERS in the early project stages with the establishing of a site concept and vision, and lead projects through masterplanning work all the way to the submission of a Planning Application. We are experienced in the production of Design and Access Statements; Townscape, Heritage and Visual Impact Assessments; and Landscape Character and Visual Impact Assessments. We lead and coordinate design teams and can engage with Local Planning Authorities, other stakeholders and the general public. We undertstand the public sector and planning context well and can advise on how best to address a development proposition and enhance the chances of success in a Planning Application.
We are experts in preparing place visions, concept plans and long term strategies. The right vision can make the difference between the success and failure of a project and whether it gains the support from stakeholders and local people or attracts opposition. It can also set an area on a long terms trajectory of continuous improvements, or when wrongly cast, lead to progress stalling after the initial excitement.
Be it large or small, the majority of our projects starts with a vision. Our visions are aspirational, yet realistic. We will always look outside the box, see the bigger picture and think long-term. Our visions centre on creating successful places - places that are good for people are also good for business!
We know how to prepare masterplans for both the public as well as the private sector. We have the expertise, experience and capacity to take on masterplanning projects of any size and nature, from the planning of an entire new district or neighbourhood to the undertaking of site capacity and feasibility studies for smaller sites. We work across the full range of urban environments, including complex urban sites, transport interchanges, brownfield re-developments, suburban intensification and greenfield extensions.
Our masterplans are tailored for their purpose, including to support outline planning applications, housing zone bids, development frameworks or estate strategies. We frequently work with local authorities and have an excellent understanding of the planning policy context and the political and stakeholder dimension of projects. We are innovative designers, who always strive for high quality design to deliver the best possible solution for a place in its context.
We are experts in preparing regeneration strategies for town centres, quarters and other urban renewal areas. Successful regeneration strategies require an holistic and interdisciplinary approach to address the complex and interlinked issues and opportunities of an area. For each project we assemble a team of in-house and external experts to ensure that we respond appropriately to the place and its socio-economic, historic, cultural, market and delivery contexts.
Subject to the nature of the area and its challenges, our strategies may include a range of spatial and non-spatial solutions. We promote change through transformative building and public realm projects, the use of landmarks and other placemaking devices, meanwhile uses, tactical interventions, shop-front improvements, town centre management and promotion, markets, fairs and festivals among others. We know that delivering development takes time and that building confidence, changing perceptions and achieving early wins is important.
We have a long track record of working with the public sector, and know the planning system and its application well. Our expertise includes the preparation and submission of outline and full planning applications, the production of supporting documents such as planning statements, design and access statements, visual impact assessments, heritage and townscape assessments and the discharging of planning conditions.
We are experts in the preparation and writing of planning policy and guidance documents including SPDs, planning briefs, characterisation, building height and tall buildings studies. We also have experience as expert witnesses providing townscape and urban design evidence at public enquiries and supporting local authorities through local plan examination.
We see ourselves as the stewards of the process of change, moderating between different interests, establishing a common ground and shared objectives, and helping to build consensus as the basis for successful strategies. We are experts in stakeholder and community consultation and have established tried and tested approaches to engagement that foster enthusiasm and generate ideas, whilst building capacity, managing expectations and encouraging informed decision-making.
Almost all of our projects require an element of consultation and we are well versed in addressing all the consultation and engagement needs of a project. This may include officer and member briefings, stakeholder workshops, the playing of bespoke planning or role playing games, the establishment of town teams, the preparation and signing of town charters, 'Placecheck' exercises, visits to exemplar projects, public exhibitions, and / or the use of questionnaires and online engagement.
We believe streets and public spaces are the arenas for public life in the city. Far too often streets have been designed primarily for vehicle movement, resulting in traffic domination, segregation, and a poor environment for walking and cycling. We recognise how important the quality of the public realm and the amenity of public spaces is to the success of places and the well-being of its people. We have significant experience in public realm design, including the preparation of public realm strategies for towns centres and streetscape improvement schemes. We are proud to have designed a number of exemplar public spaces that people enjoy and that have improved the quality of places. We always look at the public realm holistically, considering its movement function, the amenity it offers for people, the relationship with surrounding development and its role in place making.
We see ourselves as the guardians of good place design. We are curious and critical thinkers and always ready to question assumptions or perceived truths. Through our work in urban design and regeneration projects we have acquired a comprehensive understanding of cities and the urban development process. This enables us to quickly assess the strength and weaknesses of an area, and to identify opportunities and challenges for a development proposition or regeneration approach.
We are adept in analysing the urban context, evaluating and critically exploring development proposals in order to guide good urban design. We act as design advisors to local authorities and private clients, appraise development schemes and undertake design reviews. We have expertise in preparing design codes and design guides, and provide urban design training.