The Urbanists to prepare infrastructure guidance

The Urbanists have been commissioned by Transport for Wales (TfW) to help them prepare ‘Placemaking Guidance’ to inform future transport infrastructure projects. TfW is currently procuring an Operator and Delivery Partner for the next Wales and Borders Rail Service and South Wales Metro. 

The purpose of the Placemaking Guidance will be to ensure that transport infrastructure investment resulting from the new rail service will have a positive impact on the quality of Wales’ cities, towns and villages.


The approach will give transport infrastructure in Wales a confident national identity, but one which is sensitive to local character, identity and sense of place.  

The Urbanists, based in Cardiff, will advise Transport for Wales on all aspects of ‘placemaking’. This will initially require the production of Placemaking Guidance, which TfW will use to inform the design process, primarily around future rail investment such as the South Wales and North East Wales Metros, but also for other transport investment in Wales.  

James Brown, Director of The Urbanists; said:

“TfW have a unique opportunity to ensure that transport investment creates a national legacy that reflects Wales’ diverse and rich character while also being sensitive to the distinctiveness of the communities served by transport investment. The impact of this next phase of investment will need to resonate with each settlement, across Wales as a whole and beyond its borders to the rest of the world.” 

The approach is based upon extensive research of how other transport organisations around the world have approached the wider opportunities created by transport, development, branding and placemaking.  

The work commenced in November and is due to be completed in Spring 2018.” 

The Urbanists Get Another Planning Approval

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The Urbanists are delighted to announce on behalf of our client Taylor Wimpey South Wales that our Development Brief for Wren’s Nest has been approved by Torfaen County Borough Council. This is the largest character area of the 1200 unit masterplan at South Sebastopol.

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Design Director Gareth Howell said: 

"We also just received confirmation that the first phase of the Wren’s Nest got Reserved Matters Planning Approval for 181 homes, with minimal conditions attached. This was a great team effort supported by WPM Planning and Development, Asbri Planning, Soltys Brewster and Quad Consult.

Wren's Nest_02.jpg
Wren's Nest_01.jpg

New Velindre Cancer Centre Approved

 Image courtesy of Hassell Architects

Image courtesy of Hassell Architects

We are delighted to announce that the planning application, on behalf of Velindre NHS Trust for the replacement Velindre Cancer Centre, was unanimously approved by Cardiff Council Planning committee.  There has been considerable discussion over the proposals in the local community and in the media.  Planning committee rigorously examined the application including the environmental mitigation measures that are set out in the Environmental Statement.  The Urbanists are acting as planning consultants on behalf of the Trust and have managed the project through the complex planning process.

 Image courtesy of Hassell Architects

Image courtesy of Hassell Architects

Steve Ham, Chief Executive of Velindre NHS Trust said: “The approval of our outline planning application is a significant milestone for the population we serve across South East Wales.

“Although it has served us and our patients well for more than 60 years; our current Cancer Centre is no longer fit for purpose. More and more people across South East Wales require cancer treatment and our care. Because of that continued increase in demand on our services, we must do things differently.

“As we move in to this next phase, we’re looking forward to continuing to work with our patients and our local community to ensure the new Velindre Cancer Centre and its location can benefit everyone.”

If you would like to know more, please dont hesitate to contact Mark Farrar or Liam Hopkins for any further information.  

The Planning (Wales) Act 2020

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The Law Commission has today released its consultation paper on proposals to overhaul and bring together all planning legislation in Wales into a single Act (‘codification’).  
It was last consolidated in the TCPA 1990 and has since undergone numerous additions and amendments, becoming increasingly fragmented with the divergence of Wales and England law. 
The Commission’s proposal is to simplify and modernise planning law in Wales.  

The consultation paper (of over 500 pages) covers the full extent of planning law including appeals, permitted development, planning applications, listed buildings and conservation areas, trees, advertising, challenges, and development plans.
It is expected that this will then form the Planning (Wales) Act 2020.

The consultation is being held for three months and the paper can be viewed here:

We will provide further commentary in due course, but please call Mark Farrar if you wish to discuss in the meantime.

The Urbanists secure a unanimous resolution to grant planning permission for 529 new homes in Newport

We are pleased to announce that we have secured a unanimous resolution to grant planning permission for 529 new homes in Newport.  The resolution was achieved on behalf of the Whiteheads Development Company, a subsidiary of the Tirion Group.  The scheme will be delivered at the former Whiteheads Steelworks site in Newport.  


(Image courtesy of Powell Dobson Architects)

In addition to the 529 new homes (50% of which will be delivered as affordable housing), 24 assisted living units, the scheme also includes a new primary school, retail units and a pub / restaurant.  The scheme is a key regeneration project in Newport that will transform a derelict strategic site into a high quality residential neighbourhood.   

We were responsible for preparing the planning application and negotiating a positive planning decision.  A key challenge that we were able to overcome during this process was agreeing suitable mitigation to address local noise from industrial use and road and rail traffic.  We achievedthis by working with the noise consultant and scheme designers to develop a suitable site layout that would provide users with suitable outdoor noise levels and agreeing a glazing and ventilation strategy for noise sensitive properties to denser suitable indoor noise levels.  In addition, we were able to agree a reasonable level of planning obligations within the context, which involved undertaking an ‘open book’ process with the Council to agree the development model and scheme viability.  


(Image courtesy of Powell Dobson Architects)

We will now be advising the Whiteheads Development Company and its partners as the scheme progresses to start on site early in 2018.

Urbanists submit outline planning application for new Velindre Cancer Centre

We are pleased to confirm that we have now submitted the outline planning application for the new Velindre Cancer Centre and Research Institute, Whitchurch, Cardiff.  

 Image courtesy of Hassell 

Image courtesy of Hassell 

The proposals for the 38,000 sq m building is central to transforming cancer services in south east wales, to replace the existing Velindre Centre with a new purpose-built facility in a natural landscape setting.  The planning submission follows an extensive community and stakeholder engagement, and pre-application notification process.  This has allowed the development team to get a broad understanding of key areas of interest being raised by the local community.  

The complex outline application was also subject to Environmental Impact Assessment which was managed by the Urbanists with specialist assessments provided by Mott Macdonald and HLM.  The development team was led by Mott MacDonald, with Hassell Architects. 

 Image courtesy of Hassell

Image courtesy of Hassell

Planning permission secured for HMS Cambria Royal Navy Reserve training facility

The Urbanists are very pleased to announce that full planning permission has been secured for the new HMS Cambria Royal Navy Reserve training facility on land to the east of Tyneside Road, Cardiff.  The scheme is a £11m investment that is proposed by the Royal Navy and ABP South Wales.  The scheme comprises a new secure military training facility building (4,659 sq m over 4 storeys) which will provide a modern 21st century training establishment for the Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marine Reserve and the University Royal Naval Unit.  By locating the facility in Cardiff, which has a thriving maritime sector within its busy port, HMS Cambria will be able to increase the recruitment and retention of Reserves.  

Planning permission was unanimously granted by the Cardiff Council Planning Committee, with special regard being paid to the design quality of the development.  One of the key planning matters that was considered during the determination of the application was the appropriateness of locating the development in the Port of Cardiff, which is allocated as employment land in the Local Development Plan.  We successfully justified the appropriateness of the development land use in on allocated employment land through reference to the substantial employment opportunities associated with the development, and by setting out the limited impact that the development would have on adjacent employment land and its occupiers.  

The Urbanists were responsible for preparing the planning application, which included coordinating the production of supporting environmental reports and scheme drawings; preparing the scheme Design and Access Statement; undertaking pre-application engagement with the LPA; coordinating the statutory notification process; and, negotiating the planning decision.  The consultant design team for the project included Gleeds, Chetwoods Architects, Hydrock and Hoare Lea.  


Resolution to grant permission secured for constrained site

We are very pleased to announce that we have secured a unanimous resolution to grant full planning permission for 33 units in Blaencwm, Rhondda. 

We were responsible for preparing: the planning application, the scheme layout and we also designed six bespoke house types, while also negotiating the resolution to approve. This demonstrates the value of our integrated and professional approach to planning consultancy and design.

One of the key challenges was to demonstrate that the scheme addressed flood risk policy, which was successfully achieved through comprehensive engagement with Natural Resources Wales.

The conclusion reached by the Local Planning Authority was that the planning application was

“sympathetic to the character and appearance of the locality and the Special Landscape Area, and is acceptable in terms of its consequences for management and mitigation of flood risk, ecological interests, highway safety and affordable housing provision in accordance with relevant LDP policies”

(Officer Report to Committee).

The landowner has overcome a significant hurdle to development and will continue to progress the site.

A TREE-LINED urban park is set to be created along The Kingsway.

Details of a £10 million redevelopment plan were today unveiled for one of Swansea's main transport routes.

The council's ambitious redevelopment of The Kingsway will see what is being billed as the city's 'Central Park' take its place alongside two lanes of traffic rather than the current four, with buses sharing the same lanes as cars.

The authority's new vision follows the fallout from the ill-fated bendy bus scheme, which was launched in 2009.

It meant one-way traffic in one direction and two-way in the other direction, prompting safety concerns.

In September 2013, 37-year-old hotel worker Daniel Foss died after being struck by a coach there and in April 2015 off-duty police sergeant Louise Lucas died after a collision with a bus, while her eight-year-old daughter suffered minor injuries.

Later that year the system was changed to its current system which has all vehicles travelling in the same westerly direction.

And tomorrow a public consultation will begin on the revamp, which will remove the existing two lanes of traffic on the northern side of the road to help create a new urban park.

The proposed new layout will see the current bus lane removed to allow traffic to travel in both directions on the southern side of the carriageway. Work is expected to start along the route later this year, once full approval has been given.

The redevelopment of The Kingsway will also include the introduction of two-way traffic along surrounding roads including, Alexandra Road, Mansel Street, Orchard Street, De La Beche Street and Belle Vue Way.

David Hopkins, cabinet member for environment and transportation, said: "The Kingsway is a route that has often been seen to split the city centre in two because of the large volumes of traffic using it.

"Moving traffic around city centre roads is a complex job and it's one we are keen to improve so we can keep the city on the move.

"The regeneration plans for The Kingsway focus more heavily on pedestrians and making the route a destination for shoppers and city centre workers.

The Craddock Street and Union Street junction of The Kingsway under the redevelopment plan.

"Introducing two-way traffic along The Kingsway and surrounding roads will help us achieve more efficient traffic flows and cut journey times. We want to hear from the public now ahead of the redevelopment to find out what they think."

The redevelopment will also support the council's broader vision for The Kingsway and the city centre.

Leader, councillor Rob Stewart, said: "Our plan is to develop an employment district on The Kingsway, so a significant improvement in the area's look and feel is vital if we're to attract major employers there and create thousands of new jobs for local people.

"The transformation of The Kingsway and the creation of a new 'Central Park' in the heart of the city supports our regeneration plans and our ambitions to create a greener, more welcoming city centre with more visitors and shoppers, helping support our existing businesses and attract more to investment in Swansea in the future.

"Together with plans for the Castle Gardens, St David's and Civic Centre development sites, these proposals will transform the city centre's retail, business, leisure and recreational offer."


HMS Cambria project goes public

The Urbanists are acting as planning consultants for the new HMS Cambria project in Cardiff Bay, on behalf of ABP.

The £11m project has now been announced publicly by the Royal Navy. It is currently at pre-planning application stage, and we will provide further updates as the project progresses.

 CGI render of the emerging proposals

CGI render of the emerging proposals

Pre-app consultation commences for 460 new homes

The pre-application consultation has commenced for masterplan at Cefn Yr Hendy on behalf of Talbot Green Developments Ltd.

The Urbanists Ltd are pleased to be leading the masterplanning and landscape design proposals for this proposed outline planning application for 460 homes in Cefn Yr Hendy working alongside WYG Planning Consultants and Vectos - Transport Planning Specialists.

Permission secured for works to Cardiff Royal Infirmary

We are pleased to confirm that the Urbanists have secured planning permission for the next phase of the redevelopment and restoration of the grade II listed Cardiff Royal Infirmary.  The phase includes the creation of a purpose built physiotherapy centre that will include a gymnasium, treatment rooms and associated office space and staff facilities; an extension to the building that will improve access into the building; the replacement of all windows which will improve energy efficiency; and, the construction of a parking courtyard.  The design of the works was undertaken by Powell Dobson Architects and the works will be implemented by Laing O’Rourke.

Port Talbot Travel Hub Progresses

We are pleased to learn that Port Talbot Travel Hub, a project that we have been supporting Neath port Talbot CBC on, has commenced on site following a successful funding application. The project will add to our established portfolio of infrastructure placemaking schemes.

The Hub, which will be located adjacent to the recently rebuilt Parkway station, will act as a focal point for transport in the area. It is jointly funded by the Welsh Government (£2.7m) and the European Regional Development Fund (£2.5m).

Economy and Infrastructure SecretaryKen Skates said:

“I’m delighted to announce this significant funding for what will be an exciting development at the heart of Port Talbot. Improving local public transport connection forms a central part of our vision for transport in Wales and having such an inviting, dedicated facility will be a big step towards that for the area. It is now vital that such local infrastructure improvements are matched at national level, and I continue to press the UK Government to ensure electrification of the rail line to Swansea happens at the earliest possible opportunity.
“Together, these improvements form an exciting opportunity not only to better serve Neath Port Talbot and its communities but to attract further investment. I look forward to seeing the completed Hub, alongside the new train station, forming the nucleus for a well connected, modern public transport network for the area.”

Neath and Port Talbot County Borough Council added:

“The Integrated Transport Hub Forms part of the wider Vibrant and Viable Places' project to improve links and connections within Port Talbot,  and will include a bus station, taxi rank and drop-off and pick-up bays, providing a safe and attractive pedestrian dominated concourse.
The Hub will provide easier access to employment and residential areas in and around the town and valleys areas, and forms part of the Council's wider regeneration plans for Port Talbot's town centre and Harbourside.
The Urbanists are an integral part of our team and provided invaluable design support to satisfy Design Council for Wales criteria and helped secure planning approval.”


Permission secured for college campus

We are pleased to announce that we have secured full planning consent for phase one of the Gower College Swansea Ty Coch Campus redevelopment masterplan.  

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Phase one will transform the existing dated college building that fronts onto Ty Coch Road into a state of the art education facility that will provide an array of student services and social functions.  The phase will also deliver a new plaza to the front of the building and a new courtyard to the rear.  Work is due to commence on site later this month to ensure that the building is ready for the 2017/2018 academic year. 

(Images credited to Powell Dobson Architects)

Landmark project announced

Ambitious plans for a mixed-use development for Cardiff Bay have been announced and The Urbanists will be providing landscape architectural input to the project.


The proposals for the Dolffin Quay scheme will include hundreds of residential units including a 20-storey apartment block, promenade of new restaurants and shops – a total of 30,000 sq ft of commercial space – as well as improved public spaces.

Appointed by Associated British Ports (ABP), we are supporting the planning consultants (QUOD) with the preparation of the planning application by preparing a Landscape & Visual Impact Assessment. We will be working with ABP's architects (Chetwoods) to help shape the concept for the design of the spaces around the buildings. Hydrock are also appointed to the team as specialist advisors on structures, building performance and geotechnical advice.

James Brown, Director of The Urbanists, said: “We are delighted to be working with ABP and their team on this exciting development in Cardiff Bay. This project, alongside other work we are doing on projects in and around the Bay, will continue the transformation of the area into a world class vistitor destination, residential address and business environment. It will also contribute to the City Council's ambition to make Cardiff a Liveable City.”

Public consultation exercises are being carried out with immediate residents, local interest groups and key stakeholders before any planning application is submitted.

Now recruiting: Landscape Architect

We are looking for an adaptable and highly motivated landscape professional to help us build on our existing portfolio of landscape projects.

We are currently working on a range of significant commissions and we also have the potential to be involved with exciting landscape projects in the near future.

We are looking for the right person to fit into our team. Ideally, that person will have:

  • Very good working knowledge of Vectorworks / CAD
  • A good understanding of Adobe Creative Suite
  • Excellent time management skills
  • Experience of working in multi-disciplinary teams on a broad range of landscape architecture and urban design projects

Our workload includes all aspects of landscape architecture from site appraisal, landscape and visual impact assessment through to concept and detailed design for both private and public sector clients.

If you are interested in joining our team, please email a letter of interest, your CV and examples of your work to

The Urbanists to advise NHS Trust for Cancer Centre

The Urbanists have been appointed as planning consultants to Mott Macdonald on behalf of the Velindre NHS Trust for the provision of the new Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, including a Centre for Learning.  

This exciting project is a key element of the wider strategy of Transforming Cancer Services in South East Wales which is set out in detail on the VCC website.

This proposal is the central component of the strategy and will replace the existing hospital with a new purpose built facility.

Further updates will follow as the project progresses.

Consent secured for up to 600 homes

We have recently assisted Llanmoor Homes to secure Planning Consent [subject to a section 106 Agreement] for the development of land at Ystrad Barwig, Blaencwm, Rhondda for Llanmoor Homes.

We were appointed by the client to prepare the masterplan for the site and compile the design and access statement to support the planning application.

 Aerial perspective of the proposed development

Aerial perspective of the proposed development

The masterplan demonstrated how the 22.11 hectare site could be developed for a mix of residential, open space and green infrastructure. The proposals include the provision of a 1 form entry school which will benefit both the proposed community as well as the existing neighbouring communities.

The proposed residential developmemt is organised into two areas which can comprise of up to 600 dwellings in total which are designed to be served by a small neighbourhood centre at the eastern entry to the site.

The approved masteraplan includes areas of green space as well as a number of footpaths and play areas that are proposed through the strategic green space, including three redirected public footpaths which currently pass through the site.


Metro moves forward with appointment of Mott Macdonald.

The Urbanists have obtained a prestigious role supporting Mott MacDonald who have secured a new framework agreement with Transport for Wales (TfW). Mott Macdonald will provide engineering consultancy services during the procurement of the next Wales and Borders franchise, as well as during the development and delivery of the South Wales Metro. The Urbanists role will be to provide urban design, landscape architecture and planning support to the Mott Macdonald team.

In 2015 the Welsh Government established TfW to support their transport aspirations for the country. Over the next two years TfW will help the government procure the next Wales and Borders franchise and develop their South Wales Metro vision. Potential work includes Metro enhancements such as new stations and upgrades, capacity and speed improvements, increased service frequency and the potential for the core Valleys lines to be converted to light rail. The framework will also include improvements to intermodal facilities and bus corridors.

The scope of services Mott MacDonald will offer TfW include multidisciplinary rail, infrastructure and station engineering, environmental, regeneration and transportation consultancy, business planning, urban design, branding and architecture.

Mott MacDonald’s commission is due to finish at the end of the first quarter of 2018, with potential for a one-year extension. The new Wales and Borders franchise will be secured towards the end of 2018 and will include the delivery of South Wales Metro.

Permission secured for 348 homes on sites across UK

The Urbanists have helped Hollins Stategic Land to secure planning consent for a total of 348 homes across a range of sites in Bolton, Nottinghamshire and two sites in Wiltshire.

We provided masterplanning input to each of the sites. For the sites in Bolton and Nottinghamshire we also provided input as landscape architects.

We look forward to working with HSL on further sites in the near future.