For an increasing number of applications, mesoscale modelling systems now aim to better represent urban areas. The complexity of processes resolved by urban parametrization schemes varies with the application. The concept of fitness-for-purpose is therefore critical for both the choice of parametrizations and the way in which the scheme should be evaluated. A systematic and objective model response analysis procedure (Multiobjective Shuffled Complex Evolution Metropolis (MOSCEM) algorithm) is used to assess the fitness of the single-layer urban canopy parametrization implemented in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. The scheme is evaluated regarding its ability to simulate observed surface energy fluxes and the sensitivity to input parameters. Recent amendments are described, focussing on features which improve its applicability to numerical weather prediction, such as a reduced and physically more meaningful list of input parameters. The study shows a high sensitivity of the scheme to parameters characterizing roof properties in contrast to a low response to road-related ones. Problems in partitioning of energy between turbulent sensible and latent heat fluxes are also emphasized. Some initial guidelines to prioritize efforts to obtain urban land-cover class characteristics in WRF are provided. Copyright © 2010 Royal Meteorological Society and Crown Copyright.