Design Council provides strategic advice to local authorities across the UK, supporting them to design neighbourhoods that promote active travel. Under a new strategic partnership, Design Council and Sustrans will work together to ensure the design of our streets and spaces prioritise walking, cycling and sustainable transport.


Pictured here, the popular 1.2km traffic-free path connecting Kingston-Upon Thames with Merton – a project supported by Sustrans and regarded by Design Council as an example of good practice.

The new partnership ties into Design Council’s recently launched Strategy 2020-24 which sets out three key priorities: improving the health and wellbeing, and reducing health inequalities; enabling sustainable living, focusing in particular on climate change; and increasing design skills to respond to major challenges and contribute to the economy.  

Design Council and Sustrans will use their shared research, insight and thinking to influence the UK Government’s housing and planning policies and garden communities work, ensuring that neighbourhoods stimulate physical activity and mental wellbeing. Both organisations are keen to maximise the housing growth agenda, putting healthy placemaking at its core. 

Design Council and Sustrans will build on their work to provide practical support for partners working in planning, design and management of the built environment. This will include supporting partners to engage fully with local communities, including Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, in order to create healthy streets and places that meet people’s diverse needs. The two organisations will also focus on building the design skills and mindsets of partners to promote collaboration and innovation around the built environment, its products and services. 

Sarah Weir OBE, Chief Executive of Design Council said: "I am delighted to have entered into this new strategic partnership with Sustrans. This important relationship supports Design Council’s ambitious new strategy which sets out our commitment to improve health and wellbeing, enable sustainable living and increase design skills.”  

Creating healthy, inclusive and sustainable places has been a core part of our work for many years. By joining forces with Sustrans, sharing our experience and expertise, and exerting our joint influence, we can progress even further the design of homes, neighbourhoods and infrastructure to benefit people and the planet.” 

Xavier Brice, Chief Executive at Sustrans said: “Sustrans and Design Council have the privilege of working on projects that help millions of people transform the way they move around in cities and towns and both share values based on prioritising people in the design and planning process.  

“In these extraordinary times, there is a greater urgency and an imperative to collaborate and work better towards a greener and just recovery. This partnership agreement gives us the opportunity to combine our strengths, reach more diverse communities and create healthier places and happier lives for everyone”. 

With the Department for Transport urging local authorities to reallocate road space to walking and cycling, Sustrans has recently published an introduction guide for planners, urban designers and engineers on how to design and implement low traffic neighborhoods: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/for-professionals/infrastructure/an-introductory-guide-to-low-traffic-neighbourhood-design/ 

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