Arup’s town and urban planning teams develop statutory consents and statutory and non-statutory policy around developments and places, enabling collaboration within complex planning and policy-making processes. Our advice helps to determine character, preserve heritage and create local amenities and infrastructure, balancing the built and natural environment, community needs, cultural significance and economic sustainability.

We recognise that planning is always at the centre of complex debates about the future of communities. At a local level, we help clients develop both statutory and non-statutory responses, providing guidance that ensures development happens in the right way in the right location to promote change in an area and attract investment. It means development moves forward in line with a strategic vision and is intentional, rather than happening in a piecemeal fashion.

At a higher level, our planning and policy experts also advise public sector authorities on policy development, providing the technical evidence that sits behind the policy, as well as on policy reform, to drive efficiency and sustainability in local planning choices. 

Our planning experts provide end-to-end support and advice to public authorities, infrastructure developers, property companies and landowners through the planning and policy development process, engaging with communities to deliver more inclusive and sustainable towns and cities. 

Statutory consents

We guide clients through each stage of the planning process on some of the most complicated development projects – from district scale regeneration, complex sites and approvals for major infrastructure works. We develop planning applications and permits, prepare and deliver appropriate approval strategies to support project delivery based on legislative requirements, technical constraints, project priorities and risks, and wider sustainability, engagement and social value demands.

Business case development

Understanding the wider economic and social value benefits of urban development and appraising the cost-benefit analysis can shape the intended outcome of a project at the outset. Our approach helps to understand how urban interventions can maximise return on investment, demonstrate value to society, and improve overall city resilience.

Working with stakeholders, design colleagues and technical experts, we establish the wide economic benefits of urban development from diverse perspectives to make the case for investment, providing joined-up advice that makes complex projects work in practice.

Policy advice and development

Planning policy needs an understanding of governance, relationships and politics. We advise on regional and national policy, working with clients to make sense of the policy landscape and develop statutory – or legally-binding – national, regional and local government planning policies. This includes technical evidence research, legal documentation, zoning maps, environmental impact reports, public engagement and consultation, and developing best practice.

We also produce non-statutory policy – strategies, community-driven plans, frameworks, design guidelines – that help to steer development delivery, address evolving challenges to complement statutory guidance.

Research and evidence base development

Technical evidence provides the factual foundation of a well-informed, legally compliant plan that can deliver for the future needs of a community and inform where investment is prioritised. We deliver technical research to inform changes to statutory and non-statutory planning practice on behalf of local and national government, statutory agencies and professional bodies. 

Impact assessment and evaluation

To inform responsible decision-making with future communities in mind, we deliver impact assessments and social value analysis for projects across transport, water and urban development, covering social impact, socio-economic impact, business impact and land use and property impact.

We also evaluate urban interventions as they’re completed to understand the return on investment, demonstrate value to operators and society, and learn important lessons for future delivery. 

Find out more about our evaluation of the Elizabeth Line.

Digital planning

Digital is transforming our understanding of city development. Using agent-based modelling, we can better understand what people want and need from a city’s districts and transport in particular. We use this to inform our policy-making, from guiding where development is best suited or determining desired changes in urban behaviour. We can engage a wider, more diverse audience using virtual planning consultations. And we review the performance of urban assets, informing decarbonisation, as well as analysing safety, capacity and asset condition, informing future investments.

Find out more about our City Modelling Lab.