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Road User Voice – April 2016 – Better by design

04 April 2016

Transport Focus is taking part in an initiative launched by Highways England to encourage excellence in road design.

Highways England set up a Design Panel last summer to make the road network something people can enjoy and be proud of. It is bringing together experts in architecture, environment, heritage, design and engineering.

The panel wants all elements of the road network to be designed to the highest standard, creating the best user experience. Transport Focus is now working with organisations such as the National Trust, Design Council and Royal Institute of British Architects to help Highways England become an exemplar of good design.

Transport Focus’s road users’ priorities for improvement research found that safer design and upkeep of England’s major roads is one of users’ top priorities for improvement.

Some users also prioritised improvements to protecting the wider environment and the maintenance of the roadside environment.

The advice the Design Panel will be giving to Highways England should embrace this and ensure that high design standards are built into improvement schemes from the outset. As a member, Transport Focus will work with the specialists on the panel to ensure that the focus is not on good design for its own sake, but on how it can make things better for road users.

The panel recently discussed the framework needed to deliver this aim. It assessed how well the principles are already being applied in some of the biggest schemes now being taken forward – including the A303 past Stonehenge, and the planned Lower Thames Crossing.

These are clearly flagship schemes for the company, but it needs to ensure the principles of good design are applied across the full range of work on the Strategic Road Network. Transport Focus expects that attention to detail in smaller schemes will do much to enhance the user experience; small can, and should be, beautiful.

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