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Regional Streetscape Manuals

Historic England's streetscape manuals, Streets for All, set out principles of good practice for street management - such as reducing clutter, co-ordinating design and reinforcing local character.

The manuals, covering each of the English regions, provide inspiration and advice on street design which reflect the region's historic character.

East Midlands

The East Midlands is a region of contrasts and diversity. From the mountainous Peak District to Lincolnshire fenland, from coal to cotton weaving, its identity is many layered.  Geology and the history of industry are two of the key factors influencing the distinctiveness of the sub-areas within the region.  This is readily apparent in the region's historic buildings and also, where it survives, in the streetscape of its settlements.

See Streets for All: East Midlands

East of England

The East of England region is predominantly fertile agricultural countryside punctuated with many small towns and villages.  The diversity of places has produced a wide range of building types and settlement patterns.  These range from the brick of Bedfordshire, the timber frames of Suffolk, the medieval contrasts of Cambridge to the garden suburb conformity of Letchworth.

See Streets for All: East of England 

Elm Street Hill, Norwich
Elm Street Hill, Norwich


Unlike Paris, Berlin or New York, London is a collection of urban villages, each with their own distinctive character and sense of place, which developed around the twin cores of the Cities of London and Westminster.  Well designed environmental improvements can help to nurture this local distinctiveness and revitalise local communities.

See Streets for All: London

Tall buildings in London
Queen's Walk, London

North East

The North East region is broadly defined as the area between the Pennines and the North Sea to the north of the Cleveland Hills. Seventy per cent of the population live in the industrialised conurbations along the rivers Tyne, Tees and Wear.

This means that there is a distinctly rural hinterland and 13% of the region is designated National Park.  This diversity of places has produced a wide range of building types and settlement patterns from the contrasts of medieval Durham to the classical conformity of Grainger Town in Newcastle.

See Streets for All: North East 

North West

The North West's landscape can be divided into three distinct areas: the uplands of Cumbria and the Pennines; the lowland plains of West Lancashire and Cheshire; and the urban areas of Greater Manchester and other industrial towns. These three areas have distinctive geologies, reflected in the materials used in historic streets.

The industrial towns have great civic monuments, reflecting their key role in England's Victorian prosperity, built of stones from a wide range of sources. 

The compact, walled cities of Carlisle and Chester have comparable plans of ancient origin, but their buildings are very different: red sandstone in Carlisle and black and white timber framing in Chester.  The upland towns and villages were founded on hard rocks that went on to become the local building material, creating a visual harmony between landscape and built form

See Streets for All: North West 

South East

The South East Region, despite its location in a geological area characterised by softer rocks or by the absence of rocks altogether, has a surprisingly diverse vernacular building and paving tradition. 

Today, virtually no paving stone is quarried within the region.  Where traditional paving exists it thus requires identifying and conserving as a key indicator of local distinctiveness, and to influence the choice of alternative materials

See Streets for All: South East 

Narrow road with old houses either side in Kent
Aylesford High Street, Kent

South West

The South West contains the most complex geology of the English regions. The paving traditions reflect the richness and diversity of its geology. Most types of stone are represented, from the granites and virtual marbles of Cornwall and west Devon, to the carboniferous sandstones of the Bristol and Forest of Dean areas. 

Regional characteristics of street design not only extend to materials, but to design, details and to the form of streets.  Within the geological and topographical complexity of South West England, it is the patchwork of sub-regional characteristics that gives the region its rich paving tradition.

See Streets for All: South West 

West Midlands

Although geographically compact, the West Midlands shows great variety, from the dense urban development of the conurbation in the centre to the thinly populated rural areas along the Welsh Border and in the Peak District. The influence of topography and geology on local development was crucially affected by the industrial revolution, not least in the appearance of the streetscape. 

Bricks could be brought from brickworks further afield, and local ironworks each developed their own range of street furniture, of which good examples still survive in many towns.  Industrially-produced materials that were not strictly local in origin are now as much a part of the character of towns in the region as other, more traditional materials. Their effect is far more varied than is generally supposed, and their survival is worth recording.

See Streets for All: West Midlands 

View through the arch to the harbour, Clovelly
View through the arch to the harbour, Clovelly

Yorkshire and the Humber

Yorkshire and the Humber is one of the most diverse of the English regions. The southwest is heavily urbanised, while to the north and east, there are extensive rural areas. This diversity is reflected in the character of the buildings and streets of its villages, towns and cities.  A key contributor to this has been the underlying geology. 

Throughout history, the region's geology has supplied a wide range of stone for its buildings (including sandstones, limestone and ironstone) and its clays have influenced a diverse palette of brick types and roofing materials.
Prior to the industrial era the building materials - including paving materials - were locally sourced. River cobbles, sandstone and limestone setts were all applied and still survive, especially in the region's many market towns and villages.

In some parts, its industrial processes have contributed to the materials seen in the streetscape. Industrial towns and cities also have distinctive plans, predominantly built on loose grid patterns or created as a sequence of streets linking squares and spaces. In contrast, York's plan is medieval with its tight network of streets and alleys enclosed by the city walls.

See Streets for All: Yorkshire 

Very tall buildings with a church in the distance
Low Petergate and Minster, York
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