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Highways England focus on design

Highways England has launched a new set of design principles developed to put people at the heart of road design.

With a £15Bn investment strategy to deliver, the agency has decided to focus on future road requirements and ensure its roads better serve the people who use them and the environments through which they pass.

As well as connecting people and places, the agency is looking to place renewed focus on improvements which are long lasting, sensitive to their surroundings, and enhance the quality of life.

Together with the new design principles, Highways England also announced the launch of a new body, comprising experts from across the industry. The body will provide support to designers on major projects, and will review major projects such as the Lower Thames Crossing and the A303 Stonehenge improvements.

Highways England’s Chief Highways Engineer Mike Wilson said: “We are delivering the biggest level of investment in England’s strategic road network for a generation.

“We need to make sure that Highways England and the industry think in the right way when it comes to good design. The ten principles of good road design are to help us achieve that and will underpin our major improvements going forward.

“We want roads that not only connect the country and communities, but which achieve a higher quality of life; that are designed in a way that is sensitive to the surroundings; provide greater economic vitality and use resources in a more efficient and innovative way.”

The ten principles of good road design were published following the recommendations of the Highways England Strategic Design Panel. They are that good road design:

  • makes roads safe and useful
  • is inclusive
  • makes roads understandable
  • fits in context
  • is restrained
  • is environmentally sustainable
  • is thorough
  • is innovative
  • is collaborative
  • is long-lasting

The panel was set up to support the development of a culture where good design is at the heart of everything within Highways England and the wider road sector. This coincides with Highways England delivering the biggest programme of Government investment in a generation.

Highways England has set out a design vision:

“We aim to put people at the heart of our work by designing an inclusive, resilient and sustainable road network; appreciated for its usefulness but also its elegance, reflecting in its design the beauty of the natural, built and historic environment through which it passes, and enhancing it where possible.”

Examples of previous good design include the use of traditional dry stone to reinforce the A590’s connection to the Cumbrian landscape, the A3 Hindhead tunnel bypass and decommissioning of the old road, and the inclusion of a ‘green bridge’ on the A556 in Cheshire.

The ten new principles of good road design and vision will underpin the updated Design Manual for Roads and Bridges. The Design Manual for Roads and Bridges was first published in 1992 and is the standard for the design, maintenance and operation of the strategic road network and is widely used for other roads in the UK and across the globe. The new manual will be rolled out in phases and is expected to be complete by March 2020

Image: © Balfour Beatty Hindhead Tunnel


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