Prepare – understand the challenge

Define the project scope, select a spatial boundary, choose your project team, inform stakeholders, gather information, analyse and write a brief for the design phase.

Thames Gateway

Thames Gateway
© Grundy Northedge

The people who set up the large scale urban design project start by defining its scope. The area of study must obviously relate to the scale at which problems can be understood and possible solutions tested. They select a project team, a steering group and a champion to secure the necessary political backing. The project team writes a management plan that includes the aims, outputs and outcomes, a timeline, milestones, resources and risks. It also sets out how it will communicate with all those involved, including with the general public.

The team gathers, summarises, maps and analyses the background information needed for the design phase. This is an intensive and creative part of the process where participants interrogate data and learn a lot about their area. It is informed by perceptions of the quality of the existing area. They look at issues and data in a multi-layered way, assisted by strong and imaginative imagery and presentation of data and spatial information.

The culmination of this phase is a design brief that guides the next phase of work. It sets out the vision statement for the project and includes a summary of the information and analysis, delivery challenges for the wide area, aspirations for design quality and indicators to monitor the forthcoming spatial strategy and/or priority projects.

A step-by-step guide to the preparation phase

  1. Setting up a project management structure
  2. Scoping the project
  3. Preparing the stakeholder communication plan 
  4. Gathering background information
  5. Summarising and mapping information
  6. Analysing information
  7. Writing a brief for the design phase

A good example of the preparation phase

Downloads for this section

Your comments

Vincent Goodstadt on

The link to the Thames Gateway does not seem to work.


Will Myddelton on

Vincent - you're right, it was linking to an old location. I'm sorry for the trouble this has caused.

I've now fixed the link on this page -

Many thanks for your feedback. 
Will Myddelton, web editor