Memorandum by the Institution of Civil
Engineers (WTC 86)
WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
Submission by the Institute of Civil Engineers
based on the Urban Design AllianceDesigning Streets for
People Working Group.
Walking is the principle means by which we enjoy
our towns and cities. The enjoyment towns and cities have to offer,
and the perception we have of them, has a major impact on people's
readiness to walk.
the attractiveness and interest of
comfortincluding freedom from
safetyfeelings of personal
the ability to reach destinations
However, walking is but one of a number of activities
that are found in urban streets, all of which have to be reconciled
and in a single street.
COMPETING DEMANDSCONFLICTING INTERESTS
Many different people and organisations compete
to meet their own needs in a single street.
Pedestrians, wheelchair users, cyclists.
Residents, shop owners, business
Visitors, Delivery Companies, Refuse
Telephone, Gas, Cable, Electricity
Management of the street is divided among many
different organisations including:
Local Authority: Planning Authority,
Highway/Traffic Authority; Parks; Refuse Collection Service.
External groups which set performance
targets, such as the Government, Audit Commission etc.
Different legislation applies to a single streetmostly
focused on isolated aspects of the street.
New Roads and Streetworks Act
Common Law precedenteg Duty
Different guidance applies to single streetsmostly
focused on single aspects of the street, for example:
Access for people with mobility impairment
Access for Public Transport
Different professions may become involved in
single streets, for example:
And in the majority of instances, changes are
introduced without any professional input.
The focus is on individual aspects or functions
of the street, rather than treating the street as a single entity
which has to be managed and improved collectively.
Single focus solutions damage the function and
the attractiveness of streets. Examples include:
Wheeled bins: Refuse collection systems
that are cost effective but then become a permanent feature of
the streetscene in areas of terraced housing.
Landowners installing high fences
or walls to increase their perceived security at the expense of
removing pedestrian's views of attractive buildings or gardens.
Landowners converting from gardens
into hard standing for cars: marginally increasing the availability
of parking spaces at the expense of eroding the attractiveness
of the street, increasing rain run-off, and potentially reducing
the traffic calming effect of on-street parking.
Designing the street around the largest
vehicles that are ever likely to use the street, rather than pedestrians.
Collectively, these sorts of measures make the
street environment far less interesting for pedestrians, as well
as less safe and convenient.
The growth of car ownership and use has been
the cause of the major changes to the quality of the environment
in many of our streets, often to the detriment of the residents,
pedestrians and other users. Managing the change is made all the
more difficult by the complexity of the groups, legislation and
It is the finding of the Designing Streets for
People Inquiry that streets have been subject to uncoordinated
change by a wide range of bodies. A single street is not treated
as a whole, but as a set of unrelated components. What the public
require are attractive, functional streets: they require the whole
and not the parts. The design and management of our streets should
take account of people and be considered in a holistic way.
The Designing Streets for People Inquiry was
set up by the Urban Design Alliance in 1999 to examine the design,
management, maintenance and improvement of streets.
The work has involved:
survey of practitioners and local
formal presentations from selected
experts from a wide range of backgrounds.
a consultation report issued in June
2000, produced by a cross-disciplinary groups of professionals
drawn from the Urban Design Alliance.
Improving the Management of the Street and the
Street Excellence Modelan extension of
the much used EFQM Excellence Modela tool for local authorities
to improve the way they manage and enhance the public realm, helping
coordinate different organisations, departments and professions.
Public Realm Strategya single unified
strategy to coordinate the many other plans and strategies that
impinge on the public realm.
Streamlined Management systemsingle point
of contact in the local authority for public realm issues, eg
highways, development control, environmental health, licensing.
Street Management Codea code agreed between
local authority, statutory undertakers and other stakeholders
that covers the use of the street and developments and modifications
to the street. Permitted developments are removed, but work which
is in accordance with the code may proceed without further reference
to the local authority.
Design Codesimple rules for designers
of buildings in an area which allows them to exercise their flair
and creativity, but ensure the development of a cohesive, attractive
area that is fit for purpose.
evidence based designto address
the problem of standards being over-rigorously followed, by challenging
and justifying existing practices, and encouraging a system of
fully trained professionals who provide tailored solutions based
on their professional judgement.
knowledge mapsto make design
issues more accessible across the diverse professions, and to
provide a counter to single focus solutions.
Recognising that many different organisations,
groups and individuals are involved in a street, to make progress
requires cooperation, shared responsibility and joint action.
Quality Street Partnershipsbetween local
authority, professionalsand individuals and organisations
who live, work, or own property, or otherwise use a street, to
generate a consensus on how a street should be improved and managed,
funded and maintained.
Street AuditsPlacecheckan audit
undertaking at a community levelpiloted in 10 sites in
2000 by the Urban Design Alliancethe programme was funded
by English Partnerships. (Briefing Sheet attached).
Quality Street Agreementsto formalise
the consensus obtained by the street partnership, including agreements
on funding, use of land, and other undertakings.
This approach would fit well under the Community
Strategy and Local Strategic Partnership system currently being
developed in local authorities. It would provide individual members
of the community with a means of becoming directly involved in
the democratic process.
Widening Training Opportunities
Post Graduate MBAUrban Street Managementcovering
understanding streets and settlements including social and economic
issues, plus operational skills of street design, law, contracts,
finance, governance, consultation and community involvement.
Streetcraft skillsNVQ system to increase
the number of people able to deliver high quality workeg
Responses to the need to revise legislation
to facilitate better public realms include:-
Highways Act 1980 could be revised
to reflect not only the right to pass and repass, but the rights
and interests of those who live, work, or trade in property fronting
the streets, to recognise the fact that streets form the bulk
of public open space in urban areas, and to remove anomalies,
some dating from the Victorian era eg that it is legal to park
on a footway but illegal to drive onto a footway.
Legislation for simplified signingeg
simplified signing zonesto reduce expense and clutter.
Legislation to help coordination,
eg street management codes.
Currently the Working Group is reviewing the
recommendations of the consultation draft with a view to producing
a final report later in the year.
The Urban Design Allowance (UDAL) was formed
in 1997 by seven professional and specialist organisations working
to create quality towns and cities. The central goal of UDAL is
to raise awareness of urban design, and the fundament role it
plays in creating sustainable, safe and desirable urban areas.
UDAL is working to improve our towns and cities
promoting the importance of high
quality urban design;
ensuring higher standards of education
and training in the profession;
demonstrating the economic and social
advantages of urban design.
UDAL's members comprise: The Civic Trust; The
Institution of Civil Engineers; The Landscape Institute; The Royal
Institute of British Architects; The Royal Institution of Chartered
Surveyors; The Royal Town Planning Institute; The Urban Design