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PERS, Pedestrian Environment Review System

PERS is an audit tool, that assesses the walking environment.

Developed by the Transport Research Laboratory, PERS includes:
a reviewer's handbook on how to gather data
a software package that analyses and displays the results of the audit as reports and charts

Click here to access our lesson on Pedestrian Environment Review System, PERS


Changing places can be easy or difficult, depending on what part of the structure you are trying to change. It clearly isn't realistic to decide to remove a hill or divert a river, although such mammoth tasks have been undertaken (for example China's work to dam and divert the Yellow river), but altering local junctions or adding new buildings happens frequently.

Click here to access our lesson on How places change over time

Physical 3D model

Information that should be provided on a Physical 3D model include:
  • building massing (so how big the buildings are, how wide, deep and high - their 'mass')
  • building heights
  • differences between proposed and existing parts of the development

Click here to access our lesson on Artistic images


Placecheck is a tool that gets local residents thinking about the places they live in.
Placecheck is a good way of doing a general assessment of a place by asking basic questions to prompt thinking. It can be used to get others involved and engage with communities so their perceptions and aspirations inform your decisions.

Placecheck is simple. There are three basic questions to ask yourself, your colleagues and users. These questions can also be a good test to ask consultants and designers – it will show if they understand the context for their proposals.

Click here to access our lesson on Placecheck

Plan making

An area can stay as it is or it can change. If it changes, planning is there to help ensure this happens in the best possible way. But planning can also influence WHETHER change happens at all. This is normally done through plan making where authorities say where they want development or change to happen, when and how, and what the area should be like afterwards.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning process

Planning policies

Urban design is a part of planning. Together they should ensure that new developments are going to meet local, regional and national priorities.

Planning can be described as the system that nationalised the right to develop land. It is meant to regulate development for the public's good. So it has to balance lots of issues and objectives, from protecting open space to making sure enough affordable homes are built. Good design is one thing planning has to work to achieve.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning policies

Planning process

This lesson will look at the planning process, examining the following areas:
  • Plan making
  • Pre-application discussions
  • Making an application
  • Making decisions
  • Design at appeal

Click here to access our lesson on Planning process

Planning tools

In the UK planning system, planning applications are decided using statutory policy and documents.

A development proposal should normally accord with policy to get permission. The more formally the document has been adopted the more ‘weight’ it has to influence decisions. So design-based guidance and policies included within the adopted or emerging Local Development Framework (LDF) will be more influential than guidance written and published informally by the council.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools

Plans drawings and images

In planning and urban design, plans, drawings and images are used to help in a number of ways:
  • design process
  • communication
  • promoting, marketing or selling
  • injecting confidence into groups, organisations and individuals
  • assessing and validating
  • building

Click here to access our lesson on What are plans, drawings and images used for


Current thinking about traffic, streets and transport now focuses on balancing the needs of all road users (no longer giving priority to cars and lorries) and on recognising that streets and roads are more than just conduits for traffic - they are places. This has meant that basic policies around the ‘sustainable communities’ agenda affect street management as much as they impact on the planning system.

Click here to access our lesson on Policy and law for traffic and streets

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