The guys at RPGWatch have conjured up a lengthy post-release interview with Ultima V: Lazarus project lead Ian Frazier.
Q: What was the general consensus on the world building aspect of towns/dungeons and how closely they should be modeled after the original U5 town/dungeon maps? Were there re-designs happening throughout the project for minor adjustments?
A: One of the first things we did in designing this game was to plot out exactly how many new NPCs we wanted to add, and a large part of that decision-making process was a semi-realistic look at what economic needs were not being met in certain parts of the kingdom. For instance, we wouldn't place a tailor (a profession which didn't exist in the original U5) in a town immediately next to another town with one, etc. After we'd worked out what new NPCs and shops we wanted, and after we'd established a scale for the entire world (i.e. how long we wanted it to talk to walk from point A to point B in real time), it was just a matter of fitting all the necessary shops and enough houses to hold all the NPCs in a realistic manner, into a given chunk of land. That, combined with trying to hold onto some aspects of the original town layouts, and finally simple aesthetics, resulted in the Lazarus map as you see it today.