Urban Living


With a well-documented housing crisis and a national planning policy framework that directs residential development to previously used land ahead of greenfield sites, local authorities are coming under increased pressure to deliver more homes. When combined with a need to re-position and reinvent our towns and city centres and create vibrant and sustainable communities, this means a significant increase in urban residential development. While national policy and guidance has responded to the increased delivery of Build to Rent developments, many Local Plans stay silent on this type of housing including the co-living model. Residential development in urban locations face very different planning considerations and challenges to the more traditional edge of centre, greenfield housing schemes. These need to be managed effectively to ensure deliverable permissions are secured.

David Smith, Head of Urban Living  

We have seen our towns and cities evolve over the years due to the increase in online retail activity, patterns of flexible working and the increased delivery of different types of housing such as Build to Rent, Co-Living and Purpose-Built Student Housing. There has been a marked shift away from traditional commercially dominated zones to far more of a mixed-use offer. In several towns and cities, there is an increasing requirement for high quality accommodation to attract postgraduates and young professionals in Build-to-Rent and Co-living schemes. There is also increasing demand for single family Build to Rent accommodation for young families and older people who may be down-sizing.  

National policy and guidance have responded to the increasingly specialised housing needs of different cohorts. For example, there is specific national guidance relating to Build to Rent developments However, many Local Plans stay silent on this type of housing including the Co-living model.  

Town and city centre developments, by their nature and urban location, tend to be higher density and often take the form of tall buildings where visual impact, scale, heritage and townscape considerations have increased significance. Challenges around ensuring residential amenity are more common in discussions with Local Planning Authorities and key stakeholders as well as balancing the provision of biodiversity net gain, car parking, servicing of sites and shared public realm with quality placemaking. Sustainability and discussions around demolition/re-use of existing buildings and emerging requirements to assess whole-life carbon emissions are becoming significant matters in the planning balance. Other key considerations can include the ability to introduce flexible space for ground floor local services (examples include residents’ office space and coffee shops, small local food stores), wider infrastructure requirements, contaminated land and existing use values. This regularly leads to in depth negotiations around viability, affordable housing provision and leveraging external funding to meet funding gaps. 

We collaborate with strong design teams in our work around urban living to deliver permissions for viable schemes where people want to live, in well-designed housing within a vibrant and usable public realm.  


DPP Planning has an excellent track record in delivering complex and multi-faceted urban living developments across the UK. Our commercial knowledge combined with our local knowledge and drive to succeed is why we chosen to deliver challenging projects. 

Many of our projects are informed by our knowledge and experience of emerging household typologies, population projections, trends and lifestyle preferences and demand to ensure that the housing mix responds to needs and the end product is commercially viable.  

DPP have the skills, expertise and local knowledge to assist you in developing your project, from an initial planning appraisal or Local Plan promotion, through to preparing and submitting detailed planning applications, including establishing a successful project team, leading on pre-application discussions with the Council and key stakeholders, and undertaking public consultation exercises. The following case studies demonstrate our capability in this sector: 

Quayside West, Newcastle upon Tyne

Client Name: Newcastle 123 Ltd
Local Authority: Newcastle City Council
Project Value: £250 Million

This major mixed-use redevelopment sits on a long-vacant and complex gateway site, extending to 7.9ha on Newcastle’s Quayside. Residential-led, it comprises up 1,500 homes but also includes opportunities for a hotel, office, leisure and retail uses and significant improvement to the public realm.

Being in a highly prominent location, on a large scale, with noise and contamination constraints, as well as the impact on townscape and heritage assets, the team had to prepare an EIA, along with technical input from other consultants.

The application was submitted in August 2018 and DPP continue to work closely with the project team, client and Council to reach a positive decision.

We have been very impressed with the knowledge, work ethic and commitment DPP has brought to our scheme for Quayside West. Their professionalism and project-management of multiple disciplines throughout this complex and demanding project have been exemplary.

Nick Moody – Founding Partner, Newby

Image: FaulknerBrown Architects

Salford Central Masterplan

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Queens Buildings, Southampton

Client Name: Southampton Estates
Local Authority: Southampton City Council
Project Value: £??

DPP were appointed by Southampton Estates after they had received initially negative advice from the local planning authority about the prospects for the site. DPP had recently secured consent on a neighbouring site for the tallest hotel in the city, overcoming significant initial design and political opposition. 

The redevelopment of the vacant Debenhams site comprises 614 residential build-to-rent units as well as ground floor commercial uses. The scheme extended to 17 storeys, making it amongst the highest in the city whilst being located adjacent to Grade II* Listed parks. 

DPP developed a planning strategy for the site and re-positioned the pre-application submission based on a design team which could address the concerns which had been raised. Utilising our relationship with senior planning, transport and design officers we were able to adjust the scheme to address concerns whilst balancing the viability of the proposals.


DPP have worked closely with the design team and officers at the LPA to reach planning approval. Initial concerns about the scale of development and public realm were addressed by DPP working closely with the project architect and senior officers. Crucially, DPP balanced these concerns with the viability of the proposals.


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