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The Government wants parents to have a choice over where their children go to school. In many parts of the country such a choice is non-existent due to demand issues, but despite this, the concept of choice is there.

Click here to access our lesson on Social policy objectives

Elements of the urban realm

Urban design deals with the whole of our urban environment, sometimes called the urban realm. That is, the buildings and spaces that make up towns and cities. Any urban area is made up of different types of spaces and buildings.

Click here to access our lesson on Understanding urban structure

Ensuring you achieve good design

Why good intentions are not enough

"We admire one kind of place … but we constantly build something very different” – Andres Duany

Every time we change part of our environment, even in the smallest way, we have the opportunity to make it better. But often things get in the way of doing what we intended in the first place, or what is best. At the same time we all tend to focus on our own little bit of the bigger picture, it can be really hard to see how our actions can work with, or against those of others.

Click here to access our lesson on Ensuring you achieve good design

Examples and responsibility

How can all these poor examples come about? It is easier to critisise with hindsight than get it right in the first place.

The chances are that they are not any one person’s fault, but there was probably also little or no public engagement or advice from other professionals to inform the decisions that led to them.

Click here to access our lesson on Design principles for streets

Existing and proposed developments

Existing and proposed developments should be identified clearly on drawings. Drawing styles can sometimes merge these two situations closely, making it difficult to assess and compare. The example below has both annotations and graphic treatment to highlight the differences.

Click here to access our lesson on Technical drawings



Here are some issues to look out for when considering Function:
  • If you want to your street to allow space and time to stop amid a busy town centre, site market stalls and accommodate street entertainers, for example, you will need to design in wide pavements and other considerations. These functions can all attract local residents and visitors and add vitality to the area, but you must design for this type of use, otherwise the street might not work as you want it to.
  • Level access crossing for deliveries helps small shops that don’t have one big supplier, helping to sustain local distinctiveness.
  • Regular cleansing helps reduce anti-social behaviour
  • You may need a range of seats to cater for different age groups (walls with flat tops can be used as occasional seats, but elderly users might prefer benches), but everyone likes an interesting outlook.
  • An outdoor café in a quiet backwater is pleasant place to relax away from traffic, however to be viable it needs to be visible from a busy area and be on a pedestrian route.

Click here to access our lesson on Quality audits for highways schemes

Funding and decision-making

Funding for our streets and public realm comes primarily from the government. That is, from taxation, though it is allocated through different authorities and under different headings, and for different priorities. Some money also comes from contributions made by developers, paying for new streets or improvements to existing ones.

Click here to access our lesson on Making balanced decisions about highways schemes


Gateways, landmarks and icons

Gateways, landmarks and icons are urban design terms used to describe major parts of any urban structure. They can all have a considerable impact on the character of a place.

Click here to access our lesson on Understanding urban structure

Good practice

For drawings, plans and graphics that are measurable, the following should always be provided:

  • key
  • title block
  • north point
  • scale bar and written scale (sucn as 1:50)

Click here to access our lesson on Technical drawings


Legislation (like The Highways Act 1980) has to be complied with. However, the legislation doesn’t go into detail in terms of design – for example it might state the materials that a sign should be made of or what it means, but not when one should or should not be used.

Click here to access our lesson on Policy and law for traffic and streets

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