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Prepare a Street Audit

Know a cluttered street near you but don't know what to do about it? Why not carry out a street audit and send it to your local councillor? He or she is publicly elected to the council to represent your local area. The more street audits they receive the more likely the council is to take action to improve the street quality.

Our street audit questions below will help you to:

  • Identify what is special and makes the street distinct
  • Identify issues that reduce its specialness and make it hard to use
  • Think about what could be done to improve the area

A group of four volunteers look at a cobbled street surface and make notes on a clipboard.
A systematic survey by volunteers can provide important information about what is valued and where it is as well as highlighting the issues that have developed © Historic England

Heritage interest

  • Is the past use of the space part of the area’s heritage interest (such as a market place or churchyard for instance) and is this easy to understand for people using it?
  • Was it formally designed to appear a particular way and have past public realm works changed this?
  • Is its appearance or character particularly valued for something that is affected by something in the public realm?
  • Are there other historic buildings or space around it that benefit from its appearance (or could benefit from it if it was improved)?

Market square busy with shoppers.
Is the use of the street part of its special interest? © Historic England

Access and safety

  • Is the area easy to find your way around?
  • Can you move through it without undue obstruction?
  • Is this the case for all users, including those with impaired vision or mobility?
  • Are any obstructions due to incomplete maintenance, the condition of surfaces or poor practice such as placement of A-boards or wheelie bins?
  • Is it clear to pedestrians and cyclists where motor vehicles are intended to travel?
  • Are formal crossing points appropriately marked so people with visual impairment can find them?
  • Can motorists clearly identify where pedestrians and cyclists are likely to be in the highway?

Paving and drainage

  • Is it messy, broken or badly repaired?
  • Is any paving part of the area’s character (e.g. cobbles or kerbs of locally sourced or high quality stone or iron edged kerbs, reflecting past industrial use of the area) that needs to be conserved?
  • Are kerbs hard to detect?
  • Are surfaces sufficiently well drained to prevent them becoming slippery or collecting large puddles?
  • Are drains blocked or in the wrong places?

Well maintained old cobbles and flagstones with a couple of pedestrians shown from the waist down as they walk off out of the top of the picture.
Well maintained cobbles and flags help to reveal the industrial past of an area and provide a suitable surface for modern uses © Historic England

Pavement obstructions

  • Are litter bins, wheelie bins, A-boards or other features routinely left on the pavement, do they obstruct the footway or cause problems for people with visual impairment or using mobility aids?

A-frame signs narrow the passable area of a flagstone pavement where pram and mobility scooter users manoeuvre around each other.
Cluttered pavements create difficulties for many users © Historic England

Signs

  • Are there too many? Could some be combined?
  • Are any in the wrong place or are they in poor condition?
  • Are road users (including pedestrians, cyclists and motorists) able to understand them and follow instructions without confusion?
  • Are any signs part of the area’s valued character? (e.g. historic cast-iron street signs)

Street furniture

This would cover things like guardrails, telephone boxes, bollards, litter bins, bus shelters, benches, plant containers.

  • Are any of these broken, in the wrong location, in the way, not a suitable design for the area, or covered in graffiti or adverts?
  • Are any historic or locally distinctive?
  • Do any have architectural interest?

Public art and memorials

  • Is there any art in the public realm (this might include decoration of otherwise functional features as well as statues or memorials)?
  • Does it need special maintenance? Is it in good condition?
  • Is it incorporated into the area’s design successfully?

Street lighting

  • Is it too bright, too dark or just right considering needs for security, access, safety and the area’s character?
  • Is the colour of the light right for the area?
  • Are the lighting columns or lamps an appropriate design for the area?
  • Do they contribute to the area’s historic or architectural interest?
  • Are they in good repair?

Advertisements

  • Are any inappropriate to the area’s character?
  • Are there too many or are they obtrusive?
  • Is illumination of adverts appropriate or intrusive?

Motor traffic and car parking

  • Is there too little formal parking for demand or too little control over who parks where?
  • Do parked cars obstruct access or impact on the area’s appearance?
  • Is current parking use important to the uses of the area, or is ‘overspill’ parking from other areas affecting its character?
  • Is traffic speed and volume appropriate to the area’s uses?
  • Do motor vehicles have a noticeable impact on the area’s air quality?
  • Is vehicle access important to maintain the area’s uses (such as supply businesses) or could it be either restricted or limited?

Highways engineering and poorly maintained boundaries and public realm contribute to a poor impression made at this entrance to an historic high street
Highways engineering and poorly maintained boundaries and public realm contribute to a poor impression made at this entrance to an historic high street © Historic England
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