Urban Design

What is Urban Design?

Urban Design involves the design of towns, cities, streets and spaces, it is often described as ‘the art of place-making’. It is concerned with the design of buildings, groups of buildings alongside the spaces and connections between them. It also involves public art and high quality public realm.


Urban Design in Newcastle

Good design is not simply creating attractive buildings and places but about making places that work and where people want to be. The quality of what we build in our towns and city affects everyone and everything.

Successful and well-designed places are essential for improving quality of life. Also, they tend to be valued more by those who live and work in an area and are more appealing to visitors.

As a regional capital in the North East of England, Newcastle is a city with rich cultural heritage and distinctive character. Our work involves a wide range of projects and programmes across the city to enhance the existing character whilst raising the standard of design.

Additionally, the government places great weight on the importance of urban design and sustainable development within our towns and cities. This is reflected in our local policies helping to ensure places are attractive, function well and are sustainable.


Who Are We and What We Do?

The Urban Design Team is a multi-disciplinary group of experienced and award-winning built environment professionals. We provide design support and advice within the Council as part of the Planning Service. Our work includes:

  • producing policy and guidance;
  • providing design advice on major planning applications city
  • preparing Urban Design Frameworks, Masterplans, Design Codes and Planning Briefs for strategic regeneration sites;
  • collaborate on public realm;
  • promoting public art; and
  • organising the Lord Mayor Design Awards every two years.



Public Art


Public art is used by the City Council to create and revitalise public spaces, to improve the environment and to enhance new developments. It is also an important and creative community development tool and is used to engage local people in shaping and defining their own communities and to enhance teaching in a range of subjects across the curriculum. It is an important part of delivering sustainable, empowered communities.


Newcastle Public Art Strategy

The Public Art Strategy for Newcastle sets out a shared vision for the future of public art in the city and a series of three themes intended to achieve this vision: Future City, Hidden City and Open City.  The City Council endorses the city-wide vision for public art that supports the targeted and collaborative approach to commissioning artists and future public art works.

See here for our Public Art guide.

Urban Design team and Public Art

The Urban Design team promotes public art as part of their commitment to creating and sustaining quality places within Newcastle. They enable Public Art through the planning process and co-ordinate the maintenance of council owned artworks commissioned through the Grainiger Town urban regeneration project. In line with the three themes of the Public Art Strategy the Urban Design Team support a sustainable programme of high quality and innovative public art activity that builds on the City’s reputation and continuing ambition as the regional Cultural Capital.
Questions on public art? Contact Publicart@newcastle.gov.uk