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Urban Design Compendium

Case Study 061 - A collaborative approach to delivering a sustainable urban extension

061 - Upton, Northampton

The masterplan and subsequent design codes for Upton, a sustainable urban extension on a 44 hectare greenfield site on the edge of Northampton, was developed through a lively and collaborative design process known as “Enquiry by Design”.

“Enquiry by Design” is a charrette process and was pioneered in the UK at Upton through the Princes Foundation for the Built Environment. The first phase of the intensive consultation process involved the local authority officers and councillors (Northampton Borough Council), the landowners (English Partnerships, now part of the Homes and Communities Agency), would-be developers, infrastructure providers, local community interest groups and individuals, voicing their hopes for, and concerns about, the expansion of their town. This interactive consultation process was facilitated by a group of external consultants who worked with the participants to produce a vision, a development framework and design principles during a five-day workshop.

The resultant vision for Upton is of an exemplary mixed use neighbourhood to include 1,400 energy efficient homes, a primary school, shops, offices, cafés/restaurants, public house, nursery, interpretation centre, playing fields and a country park. The public realm proposals include a sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS), a new public square and a hierarchy of connected streets, much of which are delivered in advance by the Homes and Communities Agency.

In order to deliver the high quality environment envisaged through the Enquiry by Design process over a 10 year period by a number of diverse developers, a set of design codes have been developed and endorsed as Supplementary Planning Development by the local authority. The codes focus on urban form, street types, block principles, boundary treatments, building types and uses, building heights and materials along with SUDS, public realm and environmental standards.

The implementation of the development of Upton has been guided by a Working Group, which involves many of the members of the original Enquiry by Design process, who has used the framework and design codes to guide and deliver a consistently high quality of development through a speedier planning process.

Other Information

  • Location: Northampton
  • Project Team: English Partnerships, Princes Foundation, West Northamptonshire Development corporation, Northampton Borough Council; Masterplanner - EDAW, Alan Baxter, PellFrischmann, Quartet; Architect - Quartet
  • Contact:


UDC2 Section - From Vision to Reality 

The Enquiry by Design process produced a joint vision and consensus for quality which has helped deliver a range of homes and streets which combine to create a lively neighbourhood.Images (image bank)