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The road to good design

The road to good design

23 January 2018

At the start of the Year of Engineering, a government campaign to get many thousands of younger people to consider engineering as a career, Highways England have set out their 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.”

At the launch of their newly adopted Design Vision and Principles of Good Road Design at the Institute of Civil Engineers this month, Chief Highways Engineer Mike Wilson also announced that they were working with Design Council to deliver independent design reviews of their schemes and help review their design processes, in line with this vision and principles.

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.”

We need to design in a way that is sensitive to the context of a road’s surroundings and responsive to the needs of those who use it and the communities through which it passes.

Design Council CEO, Sarah Weir OBE said: “Design Council is fully supportive of Highways England’s adopted ‘Principles of Good Road Design’. We are delighted to be working with them on the delivery of Independent Design Reviews through our newly established Highways England Design Review Panel, which will use these principles to assess road schemes as they develop, and provide insight and recommendations on individual schemes as well as more strategic guidance and change to processes. The approach being adopted by Highways England is a good start in embedding high-quality people based design at the heart of their programme.”

The ten principles of good road design were adopted at the recommendation of the Highways England Strategic Design Panel* and follow the themes of people, places and processes:

  1. makes roads safe and useful
  2. is inclusive
  3. makes roads understandable
  4. fits in context
  5. is restrained
  6. is environmentally sustainable
  7. is thorough
  8. is innovative
  9. is collaborative
  10. is long-lasting

View the full Principles of good road design document to find out more.

*The Highways England Strategic Design 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. The Highways England Design Review Panel Service will focus on the learning from the review of individual schemes as well as strategic input, targeting where its expertise, insight and guidance will have the most positive impact and wider benefit such as standards, procurement and evaluation.

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