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Advice & Support

Design Review and Surgeries are interactive sessions where a panel, with relevant experience and expertise, provide constructive feedback on a scheme to its developers and designers. Reviews tend to follow an established format while Surgeries can be more informal and adapt to a particular project’s circumstances. 

We run Reviews and Surgeries on development, streets, public realm, transport planning and infrastructure projects as well as policy and guidance documents. To book a session or request more information please contact Paul Dodd, our Panel Manager.

Over the last 10 years we have reviewed the majority of Transport for London's (TfL) funded public realm improvement schemes, the urban integration plans for most of the Elizabeth Line’s stations and have standing panels advising on the Silvertown Tunnel and TfL's funded Liveable Neighbourhood projects.

We can set up an expert panel  with a programme of sessions to support your scheme as it develops. Please note we are signatories of the Mayor’s London Quality Review Charter which sets standards for design review practices across the city.

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Design Review Cropped

Over the last five years the number of panels in London has grown significantly, both at the borough level and in areas with significant development. The panels play an increasingly important role in the quality of development in London. London Panels include those that are called ‘Design Review’ Panels, as well as ‘Quality Review ‘or ‘Place Review’ Panels.

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Building for a Healthy Life is a national housing design quality accreditation scheme created by Design for Homes and mentioned in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which uses the Building for a Healthy Life guide. 

We provide validation assessments for fully designed or constructed schemes. This note explains how validations work.

We can also use Building for a healthy life as a framework for scheme reviews, workshops or procurement advice. Pages 3-4 of the Building for a Healthy Life document explain how best to use the document in the planning and development process.

Please get in touch to arrange your Building for a Healthy Life assessment.

We can help you shape critical policies or guidance notes in order to deliver better spaces. We have provided advice on local and city plans, supplementary planning documents, public realm and active travel strategies.

We have authored or helped to shape important policies, guidance documents and initiatives including what the London Plan should say about design, the GLA’s latest Housing Supplementary Planning Guidance and the Global Designing Cities Initiative’s Global Street Design Guide.

Please get in touch to arrange a bespoke advice service.

We can provide facilitation and mentoring services.  Our team has chaired, managed and directed a wide range of debates, discussions and workshops for local authorities, government and professional institutes including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) and the National Association of City Transportation (NACTO).

Please get in touch if we can support you with an upcoming event or meeting.


Esther Kurland


Esther has been the Director of UDL since 2005 running an annual programme of events as well as advising on policy development, scrutiny and design best practice. Esther has been part of a wide range of Design Review panels, steering groups, design awards and advisory committees.
Events which Esther has Chaired include TfL’s Roads Taskforce Conference, the Liveable Cities Conference for the Royal Danish Embassy and the National Housing Design Award expert seminars

“The moderation and contribution to the discussion by Esther was masterful” (MSc Student, Bartlett School of Planning)

" What a star [Esther is].  A brilliant chair, able to move an event on in a disciplined way without appearing domineering, and yet fully in command – even down to handling a potentially unstoppable former leader of a council!" (Member, Urban Design Group)


Paul Dodd


Paul leads on design advice and the delivery of the urban design programme specialising in street and public realm for UDL. He is an urban designer and Chartered Landscape Architect with over 25 years’ experience working within private practice and local government.

Paul is an active panellist and Chairs the London Borough of Lambeth Design Review Panel.

"Paul's chairing was fantastic, helpful and insightful. I especially liked how he moderated the discussion ensuring a complete overview on the topic" (Borough Officer, LB Islington)


Sue Vincent

Sue leads the urban design training programme at UDL. She is a former deputy leader of a large authority and cabinet member for Environment, Transport & Planning; she has Chaired and been a member of its planning committee for over 17 years.

Events which Sue has Chaired include local authority policy setting discussions and public meetings with communities. She has also steered complex planning applications through committees.

“The facilitation by Sue was particularly strong on bringing people together and ensuring all views were heard. Her constructive approach was firm, effective and timely” (London Council Leader)


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