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.  

15107 P(0)310 Proposed Front 3D View.jpg

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 james.brown@theurbanists.net

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.


Urbanists Solar appeal success

We are pleased to confirm that our appeal, for Afan Energy, against the refusal of planning permission for a 5.1MW solar array near Maesteg, has been allowed. 

The Urbanists were the planning consultant for the client and also prepared the Landscape & Visual Impact Assessment. We worked closely with John Campion as expert landscape witness for the appeal.

The key issues were the impact on the character and appearance of the landscape, impact on living conditions of local residents, and whether the benefits would be sufficient to outweigh any harm.  The Inspector found that the proposal would make a worthwhile contribution to national energy targets, that it would not adversely affect the amenity of neighbouring uses or occupiers, and that it would be of only minor detriment to the landscape.

Lauren Brown weds!

The Urbanists were delighted to celebrate with Lauren Phillips (nee Brown) and her new husband, Gareth, on their big day.

Lauren, an Associate with the practice, is a longstanding and important member of the team and has a broad range of urban design and masterplanning experience with a range of clients which include national housebuilders and housing associations.

Our team were present at the wedding and all enjoyed a great night. We wish Lauren and Gareth all the very best for the future.

Trimsaran School Planning Permission Secured

The Urbanists are pleased to confirm that Carmarthenshire Council planning committee voted unanimously to approve our planning application for a replacement primary school at Ysgol Gymunedol Trimsaran, Carmarthenshire.  The Urbanists are acting as Planning Consultants and Landscape Architects with the project team comprising Dawnus Construction, Architype (Architects), and WSP (Engineers).  The school, of capacity 210 pupils, will be built to Passivhaus standards and BREEAM Excellent.  The replacement school includes a new main point of access, staff car parking, formal play areas, and landscape works.  The location was constrained by the need to retain the operational school until the replacement school is completed.  Construction is due to commence in April this year for completion by September 2017.  Project value £6.8m.         

Frideswide Square opens

The Urbanists were delighted to attend the official opening of the £5.8m transformation of Frideswide Square in Oxford in December. 

The square was designed by The Urbanists alongside Oxfordshire County Council (highways / transportation) and Atkins (civil engineering).

When the transformation of Frideswide Square started the old traffic lights were replaced by three roundabouts. There are now more than 37,000 cars, vans and light goods vehicle movements and around 5,000 lorries and bus movements going through the new “free flow” arrangements in a normal day.

The open area may shortly be used by food and drink businesses on the square to offer outdoor dining to customers.

James Brown, Director of The Urbanists: “Frideswide Square was, until recently, a large traffic dominated junction. Pedestrians and cyclists were relegated to the spaces left behind once the roads had been laid out. 

The key design challenge of Frideswide Square was to introduce a much better sense of place which is more reflective of Oxford. It was also about ensuring that pedestrian and cycle movements were given equal priority to vehicular movement and that the whole square was still able to accommodate the same number of vehicles per day. Aligning these, often competing, agendas has been very challenging. 

The new square is now more harmonious. People can still move through it, albeit differently than they did before. Vehicular traffic remains in the square, but it moves through it constantly and more slowly. People now have places to sit, wait and spend a little time, whilst business have space where they can engage with new customers.”

The new design encourages a slow (12-15mph) and smooth traffic flow meaning that the majority of cyclists will feel comfortable joining the main flow of traffic on the carriageway. The speed limit throughout the city of Oxford is 20mph.


Vast pedestrian space and cycling facilities

Pedestrians now have more space and can walk from one side to the other of the square at a number of crossing points, while cyclists can choose to take on or off road routes. All traffic now travels along one central boulevard carriageway with courtesy pedestrian crossings replacing the old signal controlled crossings.

The design of the square is based on “shared space” which largely removes the segregation of pedestrians and vehicles. This is done by removing features such as multiple lanes of traffic, traffic lights, and introducing low kerbs and courtesy crossing points. Specialist shared space consultancy, Hamilton Baillie Associates, were involved in the early concept design of the square. 


Major gateway complete on time

County Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “I am delighted that this work has been completed on time – it is a major gateway into the city and looks fantastic.

“Frideswide Square handles thousands of vehicle journeys every day as well as being the gateway to the area for rail passengers. We will see more reliable journey times, far better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists and be part of a modern approach for Oxford.

“We’ve now got a great public space that is in keeping with nearby facilities like as the business school and future developments such as the revamped train station. The finished article reflects the regeneration taking place in and around Oxford and the county as a whole.”

Cllr Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council said:  “Frideswide Square is a focal point for traffic movements around the city centre, and the City Council has worked closely with County Council colleagues to secure improvements that will help pedestrians and cyclists as well as motorists.

“The quality of the public realm in the new square sets a high standard for future developments.”


Positive local response

Matt Davies, Director of Estates at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford said: “The staff and students of Oxford Saïd are delighted that the works to transform Frideswide Square are complete. It is already clear that the traffic flow is much improved through the square, whilst the delivery of a fantastic, high quality public realm space creates many opportunities for people to engage with the square.”


The Urbanists are already working on several other projects with similar challenges and opportunities and look forward to applying our considerable experience to other towns and cities in the UK. 




Consent for farm diversification: a happy client

Just to prove that we also work in rural areas, we secured a planning consent this week for a client who wanted to diversify their family farm by introducing new development to support their leisure and tourism aspirations.

This is what our client had to say about our work:

"We've just received the planning decision and it's been approved in full! There are a couple of minor conditions that I was well aware of and cause no problems.

In the planning officers report, she clearly supports your landscape impact assessment without any question, which is certainly down to your accurate and detailed report. There was actually an objection by a member of the public, which cited landscape impact and this was dismissed by the officer exactly in line with your findings.

I'm really grateful for your efforts and incredibly professional approach to the LVIA; it was a great piece of work and undoubtably instrumental in achieving planning permission for our new business....and allowing us to keep the family farm going!

Thanks again - especially to James (O'Donnell) for climbing all over the mountain!

Key members of the team promoted

We are pleased to announce promotions for two key members of our team. 

Liam Hopkins and Lauren Brown have both been promoted to Associate and their new status is a reflection of their talent, commitment and loyalty to the practice. 

Liam joined us in 2011 and is now an experienced urban planner and has been closely involved with the Circuit of Wales, the Metro and is currently managing a planning application for 400 homes on a brownfield site in Newport. 

Lauren is a talented urban designer who joined The Urbanists in 2008 and is has been involved with the design of a new public space called Frideswide Square in Oxford, plans for a new arrival space at Port Talbot railway station and is currently managing a number of masterplans and planning applications on a range of complex residential sites for a number of national house-builders. 

Martin Sullivan, MD of The Urbanists, said:

“Lauren and Liam both joined us on student placements and have grown with the business. Their joint promotion to the position of Associate is extremely satisfying and it reflects the maturity and experience that they now bring to the team. This is further testament to our commitment to nurture the talent within our team and we look forward to seeing Lauren and Liam continue their professional development and help grow the business.”

Circuit of Wales Common Land application approved

The Urbanists are delighted to announce that the application for deregistration of Common Land to allow the Circuit of Wales project to be developed, has been approved by the Welsh Government, following the recommendation of the Planning Inspectorate.  

The Urbanists Planning Director, Mark Farrar, acted as expert witness at the public inquiry, supported by Planning Associate Liam Hopkins, on behalf of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company.

circuit of wales

The Deputy Minister concluded that the significant public benefits that will result from the deregistration and exchange justifies the departure from the Welsh Government guidance on the approach to such applications.    

The Inspector found that the project would bring "extensive socio-economic benefits to the neighbourhood, Blaenau Gwent and beyond, which should be given very significant weight, as well as the overall benefits to the public interest in nature conservation” and “very significant public benefits exist which are sufficiently compelling to outweigh the identified harm“.  

The approval allows the required 244ha of common land to be deregistered and exchanged for 306ha of land which is now to become registered as new Common Land. 

This decision allows us to support The Heads of the Valleys Development Company to progress confidently into the detailed planning stages of the development.  We will shortly be submitting reserved matters planning applications for the first phase of the project including the site-wide engineering works, the motor racing circuit, pits and paddocks buildings and other accompanying buildings.  The decision is due to be placed on the Welsh Government website shortly. 

Hospital concourse opens to public

The new concourse building that is located within the central court of the existing Llandough Hospital is now completed and serving visitors to the hospital.  This is an important part of the improvement works to the wider hospital complex including the surrounding landscape works.
The Urbanists secured full planning permission for the new concourse hospital building as part of the wider £88m Adult Mental Health building extension and landscape works that was first secured in August 2013.