Large scale planning

Your influence over design as a councillor goes beyond individual planning applications and neighbourhood decision making. It involves understanding how different themes and activities should be brought together. It also involves recognising the challenges which cannot be solved through local action, such as climate change, and working with others beyond the local authority boundary.

© / Christopher Hill Photographic / Alamy

© / Christopher Hill Photographic / Alamy

What you can do about large scale planning

  • Think about how activities and investment within the local authority– such as housing, education, transport, health and green space - need to interact with each other to make a successful place.
  • Ensure that all key corporate documents, such as the local development frame work and core strategy, acknowledge the importance of high quality design.
  • Take a new approach to tackling issues such as sustainable economic development, which cross local authority boundaries. Large scale urban design means understanding how your local authority’s priorities relate to those of neighbouring authorities – and applying that to decision making on issues such as housing provision and transport and energy infrastructure.

How do you know if a proposal is any good? Use our seven principles of good urban design to help.

Resources for large scale planning

Getting the big picture right: a CABE guide to large scale urban design

A flexible new framework to inform decisions on where to invest limited resources for infrastructure, or where to focus the energies of developers and public service providers.

Sustainable Cities

CABE website offering advice on how to tackle climate change through planning, designing and managing sustainable places.

Planning for places

CABE guide for local authorities on delivering good design through core strategies.


Section of CABE website aimed at planning authorities.

Planning Advisory Service

Website with help for planning authorities and their partners to make good plans and deliver good development.

Cost of bad design

CABE guide highlighting what happens when buildings and public spaces go wrong and the true costs of bad design.

Value of good design

CABE guide that summarises key research showing that investment in good design generates economic and social value.

Large scale decision making case studies

The Angel of the North

The Angel of the North
© David Burton / Alamy

Gateshead: delivering transformation

As successive leaders of the council, Cllr George Gill and Cllr Mick Henry established a strong working relationship between chief officers and a culture that encouraged new ideas and creativity. These were to become the driving ideas behind the reinvention of Gateshead. Gill and Henry championed individual projects like the Angel of the North, the Baltic Centre for contemporary art and the Sage Gateshead international music centre.

The problem: The 1980s left the North East with a legacy of deindustrialisation and derelict industrial sites. Moving beyond that meant winning the support of external funders that Gateshead could be trusted to deliver projects.

The response: Years of investment in public art culminated in the Angel of the North and then a series of other projects like the Baltic, Sage and Gateshead Millennium Bridge. As part of regeneration plans drawn up in the 1990s, Gateshead Council conceived projects to transform the Baltic Flour Mills building and the derelict riverside site that became the Sage. George Mills described the Baltic as ‘a physical and symbolic catalyst for the regeneration of the east side of Gateshead’ while Mick Henry hailed the opening of the Sage as ‘a major milestone in the area’s regeneration that will once again put Gateshead on a world stage’.

The result: The Baltic has been universally well received by the people who work there and who visit it. Its prestige is recognised locally, and it is enjoyed even by people who have no great enthusiasm for the contemporary art on display inside. Alongside the Sage, the Angel of the North and the Millennium Bridge, it has helped transform the image of Gateshead and delivered economic, educational and cultural benefits, not only to Gateshead, but to neighbouring Newcastle and South Shields.

North West Cambridge: sustainable partners

As executive councillor for climate change and growth at Cambridge City Council, Cllr Sian Reid was instrumental in securing strict sustainability standards in the area action plan for the North West Cambridge housing and mixed-use development.

The problem: Cambridge is growing rapidly but the city council sees combating climate change as at the heart of its work. That means a low-carbon approach that minimises emissions from new development. The North West Cambridge site straddles the boundary between the city council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, so it was essential that they considered environmental issues beyond their respective boundaries.

The response: An area action plan was developed with the support of councillors and officers from both authorities and was seen as an opportunity to set new standards for sustainability. All homes will have to be Code for Sustainable Homes level 4 or higher until 2013 and level 5 after that – ahead of mandatory deadlines. Requirements also include a decentralised energy system that must be applied across the majority of the site, 20 per cent onsite renewables and water conservation measures.

The solution: The requirements in the area action plan were challenged on appeal but justified in front of a planning inspector and upheld. Political leadership, cooperation between two authorities and good work by officers has helped set higher sustainability standards that are now being applied constructively by the developer.