Urban Update 26 January 2018

Healthy High Streets - Public Health England Report

Public Health England has just released a report on Healthy High Streets


The report reviews evidence of the factors that lead  to an unheathy high streets including:

Poor quality shops - Higher density of payday loan, alcohol, gambling and fast food outlets in areas of deprivation. Impacts on less mobile populations disproportionately.

Inadequate Greenspace  - Deprived inner-city areas have five times less good quality green space and higher levels of pollution than other urban areas. 

More noise and air pollution - Areas of deprivation have a greater exposure to air pollution and noise than wealthier areas

Litter and Graffiti - Deprived areas experience poorer overall local environments including higher levels of graffiti, flytipped waste and litter, associated with low level crime and antisocial behaviour

More people killed or injured in traffic accidents -  Rates of fatal and serious injuries for 5–9 year olds are nine times higher than average  in the 20% most deprived areas.  Cycling fatalities are higher in the 20% most deprived wards. Risk of injury varies depending on employment status and ethnicity of parents, creating inequalities.  .

More crime and fear of crime - Higher levels of crime are found in poorer areas and fear of crime in inner city areas. Greater fear of crime is found in black and minority ethnic communities, young people, older people and women. Disproportionate victimisation is experienced by young black men, people with disabilities, and LGBT people.

Cluttered footways and non-inclusive design - Older people, people with physical disabilities, people with reduced mobility and parents with young children are affected the most by cluttered pavements and non-inclusive design reducing opportunities for physical exercise, social interaction and access to health promoting goods and services


This report focuses on the following approaches that have been shown to have direct and indirect impacts on health: 

High street diversity – which has clear benefits in encouraging wider use, though the details on how diversity is to be achieved is scant.

Green and blue infrastructure – such as street trees, parks and ponds, to improve environmental quality and create a sense of place

Traffic calming schemes – which can reduce the number of accidents by around 15% and can provide a strong stimulus for economic growth through increased footfall, increased likelihood of shop visits, and greater levels of physical activity

Better street design and maintenance - Decluttering streets by removing unnecessary street furniture, alongside introducing distinctive landmarks, accessible toilets, pedestrian crossings, seating areas and well-maintained pavements.

Crime Prevention through Environmental Design


There are additional recommendations for planners and urban designers.


To download the report



Healthy Places : A one page code for councils 

A one page summary of the main statutory duties and guidance applying to local authorities in England can be downloaded on the link below.  It covers:

·         Good leadership and management

·         Fairness for all

·         Safe Streets and Highways

·         Clean streets and public spaces

·         Clean air

·         Well planned

·         Access to healthy food

·         Public liability claims and insurance

·         Competence of staff and contractors



Shared Space Review Report Published 

A group convened by the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation including Lord Holmes has just published a review of shared space.  The report identifies areas for further research 


The report offers definitions for three types of street:


1.       Pedestrian prioritised streets

Streets where pedestrians feel that they can move freely anywhere and where drivers should feel they are a guest (e.g., Leonard Circus). Under current legislation, this does not give formal priority to pedestrians.

Elwick Square, Ashford, Kent; Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, London; Holbein Place, Sloane Square, London;  Leonard Circus, East London.


2.       Informal streets

Streets where formal traffic controls (signs, markings and signals) are absent or reduced. There is a footway and carriageway, but the differentiation between them is typically less than in a conventional street. (e.g., Poynton)

Poynton East Cheshire;  Gosford St Coventry; Kimbrose Triangle, Gloucester;  Fishergate, Preston; Hamilton Road Felixstowe


3.       Enhanced streets

Streets where the public realm has been improved and restrictions on pedestrian movement (e.g., guardrail) have been removed but conventional traffic controls largely remain

Walworth Road, Southwark, London; High Street, Boreham Wood



The review looked at the schemes in five areas of performance:

·         inclusive environment, in the majority of schemes, there was insufficient objective evidence to show whether there had been any adverse or positive effects.  Where there was any evidence available, some schemes could point to positive improvements, some were negative, while in others, the evidence was not available

·         ease of movement, - in general the evidence showed considerable improvement in pedestrian connectivity and movement, with more space for walking and reduced delays in crossing the street.

·         safety and public health, safety benefits: 4 schemes positive, 6 neutral, 1 insufficient evidence; public health benefits – insufficient evidence

·         quality of place -all the schemes led to an improvement in quality when compared with what was there previously

·         economic benefit - the impact was broadly positive.

The report reflects that kerbs between 40-60 mm in height may be appropriate where kerbs are intended as a delineator between carriageway and pedestrian areas.


To download the full review



News and Research



The teenagers who aren't learning to drive: Number with a licence falls by 19% since the 1990s with higher cost of motoring blamed


Road use charges should be tailored to drivers, says report

Humans, Health, Society

Want a healthier population? Spend less on health care and more on social services

We'll live longer but suffer more ill-health by 2035, says study

Most children in UK's poorest areas now growing up in poverty

A new university program in Philadelphia aims to train medical students to think like city planners


Air pollution may shorten telomeres in newborns -- a sign of increased health risks


Energy drink use in teens has adverse effects


Only 1 in 10 patients with anxiety disorders receives the right treatment


Civic engagement can help teens thrive later in life


Study reveals perceived gender bias against women is dominant factor in college major choice

Politics, Philosophy, Economics

Artificial intelligence predicts corruption


Have Brexit and the US presidential election made you more radical?


Urban Design around the World



The quest for the convivial city: how do ours fare?


Remai Modern: Saskatoon’s new civic art gallery


Toronto has a chance to design a better future on Yonge Street


Wind Passages Could Help Improve Tehran Air Quality


Cash-strapped Milton Keynes Council to sell off old housing office ... to build more housing


Why The Planning Committee Refused Pissarro Site Development


Thames River Heritage Park receives planning award


Architect Claire Weisz Believes Buildings Must Serve More Than Their Owners


The Intersection of Design and Social Justice in Black America