Dundee Housing Design Workshops, June 2023

Dundee Civic Trust, working with the Dundee Institute of Architects (DIA), organised successful housing design workshops that took place in June 2023 in the University of Dundee Department of Architecture and Urban Planning. The workshops’ aims were to achieve better design of housing in the city and to develop a template for developers, taking into account the need for compliance with the National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4). Numerous other organisations and professions contributed to the workshops: architects; planners; private and social housing developers; community groups; Scottish Water and others.

The outcome was a report with recommendations for housing design standards that the Trust and DIA would wish to see included in the new Dundee Local Development Plan 3, the preparation of which is now underway with a view to adoption in 2028.

29 recommendations have been refined from the workshops and will in due course be submitted to the city planners as part of the consultation for the above Plan. We expect the call for such contributions to be made in the spring of 2024.

The first three recommendations are fundamental to all proposed housing developments and their wider context. The remaining 26 relate to the basic principles of NPF4, which must be adopted by all Local Development Plans and applied in consideration of planning applications: transition to net zero emissions; conserving and recycling assets; local liveability; compact urban growth; and rebalancing development to create opportunities in areas of past decline whilst managing development in areas of high demand.

These recommendations challenge “the business as usual” approach we have seen in many of the housing developments in Dundee. Preliminary discussions have been held by the Trust and DIA with the City planners and we expect a lively debate to follow with stakeholders in the development and retrofit of housing.

We must insist that new housing developments are worthy of the City’s status as the only UK UNESCO City of Design.

Read our recommendations here.


Dundee: Vision for 2040

The Trust’s Vision for Dundee in 2040:

  • a diversified city centre with strengthened city neighbourhoods as places for people to live, work, learn and visit;
  • A ’20-minute city’, where everyone can walk or cycle for essential needs and one that is compact with limits to
    the expansion of the built-up area;
  • a well-connected city with opportunities for all its people, achieved by developing skills, fostering business innovation and supporting our learning institutions and attractions;
  • a city where the best in design is encouraged to enhance our unique environmental setting and heritage.

These are aspirations; and with cooperation and foresight many of them will be achievable in the
timeframe that we are considering.

Read the full Vision document here.

Dundee City Centre

The Trust believes that a radical new strategy is needed for the city centre, led by the Council, to tackle the increasing number of shop vacancies and empty upper floor premises.  We are now pleased to see the Council has produced a consultation document, “Our Future City Centre – Strategic Investment Plan 2020-2050”, to which the Trust is responding.

We think that the retail core area will inevitably shrink due to competition from online sales and that other uses need to be encouraged.  Promoting residential development, whether new or through building conversion, will bring more business to shops and restaurants while ensuring that cultural and civic activities are focussed in the centre will help make it the “must go” place for citizens and visitors.

Dundee Central Waterfront

The Trust supports the overall development principles of the Central Waterfront Masterplan and welcomes new investment to the city.  We will continue our regular dialogue with the Council and developers, however, to argue for a higher quality of design in future developments than has been achieved on site 6 opposite V&A Dundee and the railway station.   We are anxious that new development at the waterfront does not come at the expense of investment in the core city centre and urge that an appropriate balance be struck so that the central waterfront becomes a seamless extension of the city centre.

Dundee Local Development Plan 

Dundee Local Development Plan 2, adopted by the Council in February 2019, is the guide for the city’s development for the next decade. Although the Trust disagrees with some points of detail, we support the general principles of the Plan and will generally oppose developments that are not consistent with its policies. In particular, the Trust supports development of brownfield sites for new housing and other uses within the existing built up area of the city including the city centre. We also accept greenfield development at the Western Gateway as opposed to the expansion of Broughty Ferry northwards and eastwards.  Expansion there would put further pressure on school capacity and the ability of roads to cope with commuting to the city centre, Ninewells Hospital, the universities and other employment hubs to the west of the city. We also support the concentration of retailing in the existing established city and district centres and will oppose new developments outwith these. We hope to see no further development of out of centre retail parks.