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Principles of successful street design

CABE Space has developed five key principles that local authorities and others involved in street design should follow.

A woman walking down a street

Kensington High Street, London

The challenges we face in achieving better streets are not merely technical. This way to better streets looks at the challenges facing practitioners who believe streets are much more than conduits for traffic. Five key principles have emerged.

1. Vision

Maintain a strong physical and organisational vision. Solve problems within the framework of a strong physical vision, adapting structures and service delivery accordingly.

Kensington High Street works well as both a distinctive landmark and public space while also serving as a successful urban highway. This is a tribute to a combination of dedicated designers, progressive local authority officers and clear-sighted and determined political leadership.

2. Commitment

Be committed to long delivery timescales and to management and maintenance after delivery.

Devizes Market Square is the result of 10 years’ dedicated work and careful design and it has succeeded in retaining and enhancing the vitality of this historic Wiltshire town.

3. Integration

Accommodate people and the various ways of travelling in streets. Connect street networks to help people to choose to travel sustainably.

In Newcastle, Blackett Street and Quayside have had a vital role in the transport network for the city centre, and both schemes demonstrate innovative solutions for the relationship between traffic and the public realm.

4. Adaptation

Take account of climate and culture change in order to deliver sustainable spaces that are fit for purpose in the 21st century.

Originally tackled as part of a flood prevention scheme, Bideford Quay is a good example of an integrated approach to waterfront design, civil engineering of flood defences, new buildings and the public realm.

5. Coherence

Deliver well-conceived projects where organisational, political and technical issues are resolved into a coherent design solution.

Dublin’s O’Connell Street, brings together much of the history and aspirations of Ireland in one coherent boulevard. Its scale and elegant proportions, together with its combination of buildings, sculpture, lighting and trees, positions it in the league of great European boulevards.

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