A key problem for the concept of social sustainability is the difficulty in capturing and understanding the implications of social dynamics of cities, buildings and neighbourhoods in planning and design. While processes such as ‘enquiry by design’ envisages to address this through public engagement, the translation of identified objectives to master planning and design remains a problem as tools or processes to relate socio- economic criteria to design content are not available. Hence, this operates as largely a trial and error process. This is a significant barrier to the adoption of a robust assessment of social sustainability in urban development. It is timely that this gap is bridged without delay if truly sustainable urban development is to become a reality now and in the future. This research aims to develop a way forward to help ensure that buildings and surroundings at a local scale respond to the demands of interactive and embodied social processes, thus making a step change towards social sustainability now and for the long term.