Manual for Streets - a move in the right direction

Manual for streetsEHTF welcomes the new Manual for Streets published by the Department for Transport and Communities and Local Government on 29 March.

At the EHTF 'Transport Innovation in Historic Towns'conference held in Shrewsbury on the same day as the launch, EHTF Chair, Brian Human, gave a response to the document. He said that it is extremely welcome guidance and that design and sense of place can now take their rightful place at the heart of how we plan our streets.

EHTF is especially pleased to see:

  • The principle of reducing the dominance of the motor car
  • The recognition of the street as a 'place'and not just as a conduit for traffic
  • A design led approach
  • The development of a 'Quality Audit', which requires a full range of issues to be addressed in assessing road schemes and will not be dominated by the safety audit
  • Pedestrians and cyclists heading the user hierarchy
  • The reduction in signs and markings to the minimum
  • Reductions in the use of guard rails
  • Strong support for Sustainable Urban Drainage Schemes (SUDS)

EHTF believes that the Manual gives planners, urban designers, highway engineers and conservation officers a new mandate to work together on creative and imaginative street design that will improve the quality of life for everyone.

This is a move from an approach based on standards to one that encourages innovation and judgement, and it brings increased freedom and we must show that we are able to use that responsibly and develop the skills and cooperative working it will demand.

However, the Forum is concerned that the focus of the Manual is on new residential areas. The principles may be applied to other areas, but there is a need for clarity and direction on how we bring this more sensitive approach to high streets and other parts of our towns and cities. It is vital that some of the innovations that have dealt with movement, as well as place, in the heart of historic towns like Shrewsbury and Oswestry are given more prominence by the DfT and CLG and the principles brought into mainstream work.