Urban design

At its essence, urban design is a process of shaping a city’s physical form. In doing so, urban design plays a pivotal role in creating healthy communities, enriching public spaces, people-first environments, vibrant neighbourhoods, well preserved natural areas, and economically successful development projects.

Through a number of initiatives, Council has raised the bar on urban design in London. Projects such as the Placemaking Demonstration Project, the Urban Design Awards and the establishment of an Urban Design Peer Review Panel all contribute to a better London.

Urban design and the planning process

Urban design is incorporated into a variety of planning processes, including:

  • Official Plan and zoning by-law amendment applications
  • Site plan applications
  • Minor variance & consent applications
  • Subdivision applications
Understanding the process
  1. It is important to begin the urban design discussion early in your project process. Problems often arise when applicants go through expensive processes to design their buildings in detail, establish floor plans, or prepare expensive architectural and/or engineering drawings prior to entering into an urban design discussion.
  2. Begin with an urban design brief. This will take you through the process of evaluating your site from the perspective of its surroundings, potential linkages, important features and other relevant considerations and then through the process of establishing key urban design objectives. Once you have established those objectives and discussed them with Urban Design staff, you will have a solid foundation for designing a site and building that responds to those objectives.
  3. Incorporating quality urban design elements into a project does not have to be expensive. Its all about responding to urban design objectives and in many cases urban design can bring cost savings to a project. 
  4. Urban design IS NOT simply about aesthetics or architectural design. In general terms, urban design seeks to facilitate:
  • people first development
  • quality public spaces and places
  • better connected forms of development
  • mixed use development – in a variety of different forms
  • more compact forms of development
  • higher quality built form – both buildings and the spaces between them
  • functionally and economically successful development
  • development which preserves natural and built heritage
  • development that recognizes and builds local character

Urban design peer review panel

The urban design peer review panel was established by Council to provide expert opinion and input on planning and development applications, as well as municipal projects. The Panel consists of architects, planners, urban designers and landscape architects. The recommendations of the Urban Design Peer Review Panel are forwarded to the Planning & Development staff who accept them as input through the planning process and utilize these recommendations to shape the Staff recommendation (or in the case of site plans the staff decision) going forward.

Please contact us for the following reference documents: Urban design peer review panel - Terms of reference, Urban design and the planning process and/or 2020 Urban design peer review panel agendas, minutes and recommendations. 

Last modified:Monday, October 26, 2020