How can we make a real difference to England’s streets and public spaces? How do we make them pleasant places to be, well-designed and uncluttered? How do we stop them being the dumping ground for superfluous traffic signs, utility company equipment and unnecessary poles, bollards and barriers? Home improvement make-overs have become part of our lives. Why not make-over our streets?
English Heritage has published eight regional 'Streets for All' manuals, providing practical guidance about visual quality for all involved in managing our streets, in particular, for highways staff in local authorities.
The English Heritage 'Streets for All' manuals are the second stage of a successful Save Our Streets awareness-raising campaign begun in 2004 by English Heritage and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes.
Karen Buck, then Transport Minister, said: “Streets that are safe and attractive places for people to live and work need to be at the heart of our cities, towns and villages. Good design and high quality public spaces can be achieved, for example by avoiding sign clutter or rearranging street furniture, without compromising road safety or accessibility for all."
"We are pleased to be working with English Heritage to produce the streetscape manuals, which will be an essential part of the toolkit to help create successful, high quality public spaces.”
Bill Bryson, then English Heritage Commissioner and champion of its Save Our Streets campaign, said: “These manuals give practical advice on how to achieve the sort of quality, coherence and distinctiveness which are central to good street design. In particular, we want to encourage highways engineers to pay attention to what makes each region special, its landscape, its use of local building materials and its traditional detailing.”
“The starting point is to identify streetscape elements of historic, cultural or social value and to review whether other elements are necessary. Redundant items should be removed, and the design of essential items considered in the context of the local environment.”
The manuals cover all the main components that create the appearance of streets. These are ground surfaces, street furniture, traffic management and environmental improvements. They show successful solutions in each region – and they show the mistakes. They even advise on the least obtrusive way to accommodate CCTV cameras and recycling bins.
Streets for All favours the Dutch “woonerf” traditions of street design that works on the assumption that traffic and social activities share the same space. This combines design and behavioural psychology to increase driver awareness, reduce traffic speeds and improve safety.
The manuals also place greater emphasis on walking and cycling, on the value of public transport, on provision for the safety of children, and on accessibility for all.
Save Our Streets for Children
English Heritage has also produced a free eight-page booklet that shows how schools can use its Save Our Streets campaign as a basis for citizenship projects. Teachers are encouraged to use streets around their school as outdoor classrooms where pupils can make a critical analysis of their surroundings and complete a simple audit of clutter.
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