Purpose The increased flexibility in urban planning practice under neoliberal policies had impacts on urban aesthetics, such as causing cities to lose their unique character and identity, especially in developing countries. However, importance of the control and management of aesthetics has not been adequately addressed in the current planning legislations in the literature. Conventional legislation devices (such as zoning ordinances, building codes, etc.) provide little effect on aesthetic control for the flexible planning era. The aim of the study is to examine how a supplementary legal tool (a checklist) can be developed to provide urban aesthetics control and management for a city under neo-liberal influences by taking into consideration the relationship between urban environmental aesthetics and related legal regulations. Design/methodology/approach The research focusses on the Istanbul case. In this study, the aesthetic parameters with factor analysis using urban design parameters that affecting urban aesthetics are determined, how inclusion into the planning laws and regulations of these aesthetic parameters are examined and a checklist for aesthetics control and management are proposed. Findings The findings reveal that although there are different and fragmented legal sources that directly or indirectly deal with the aesthetic control and management for urban design and there is a lack of a supplementary legal tool as control management. Originality/value Checklists in the aesthetic control area can be a practical legal tool, which can establish a routine by giving proper attention to aesthetic quality and its related parameters of planning for all developing countries under the influence of neoliberal policies.