Highways England invites whole sector to follow 'good design' rules


Highways England has launched an independent design panel to review its schemes alongside 10 ‘principles of good road design’, which it hopes will be adopted across the roads sector.

The Government-owned company said that as well as connecting people and places, there should be renewed focus on improvements that are ‘long lasting, sensitive to their surroundings, and enhance the quality of life’ and put people at the heart of the process of building roads.


The 10 principles of good road design follow almost word for word those set out in a report from the Strategic Design Panel in September. 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

Establishing the independent panel and the headline principles put into place two of the recommendations of Highway England’s Strategic Design Panel, which reported last Autumn.

Highways England plans to put guidance on road design within the new Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB), rather than creating a freestanding ‘Good Roads Guide’, as the Panel appeared to recommend.

Chief highways engineer Mike Wilson said: ‘We need to make sure that Highways England and the industry think in the right way when it comes to good design. The 10 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.’

Mr Wilson told Transport Network: ‘As much as the Design Manual is used for other networks, we would be encouraging other highway authorities to consider the design principles because they are universal and they are applicable.

‘We are not in a position to mandate them for the local road network, but we would certainly encourage people to consider them when they are designing schemes.’

Highways England revealed that the new Design Review Panel has already carried out reviews of two of its major tunnel schemes – the £1.6bn project to build a tunnel at Stonehenge and the £4.4bn Lower Thames Crossing.

However, the final say rests with Highways England stressed that it, rather than the panel, which is facilitated through the Design Council.

The principles have been launched at the start of the Year of Engineering, a government campaign to get more young people to consider engineering as a career, ‘acknowledging that good engineering changes people’s lives’.

They will underpin the updated DMRB, which will be rolled out in phases and is expected to be complete by March 2020.

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