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Principle: To design new development to ensure natural surveillance

The more overlooked a space, entrance or building is, the more secure it will be. High levels of natural surveillance; not to be confused with formal surveillance methods such as CCTV, deters potential offenders and give occupiers a stronger sense of ownership of the public and private areas they can see.

Relationship with the street

Dwellings should front onto the street and open space and have their principal entrance onto it. Main entrances should be located so that they can be easily viewed.

Visible entrance from street, Hertford.

Illustration showing recommended relationship with the street

Recommended (left): Entrances clearly seen from the street.
Not recommended (right): Recessed side entrance is vulnerable.

External layout

Generally large housing developments should be designed to create a variety of small identifiable places or house groupings where strangers can be identified.

The grouping of these houses allows good natural surveillance, Welwyn Garden City.



This neighbourhood has a good outlook over the public realm, Broxbourne.

 Illustration showing good external layout

                 Good natural surveillence

Internal layout

Ideally buildings should be designed with a public and private side. The positioning of the windows and the relationship between the level of the floors and the street is such that privacy is not compromised. However, ideally the busiest rooms such as kitchens should overlook public and private space to maximise the opportunity for natural surveillance.

Privacy for living rooms can be achieved by raising floor levels

Illustration showing good internal layout


Window design

Windows should be designed and located to maximise overlooking of the street and open space. Where feasible and appropriate to the design, bay windows should be considered
as they provide a sideways view of a street.

Appropriate window design maximises surveillance, Woolmer Green

Illustration showing ideal window design

Ideally dwellings should wrap around corners to ensure that all parts of the public realm are overlooked. This may require the use of double fronted dwellings and should also mean avoiding blank facades and blank gables on corners and areas that are not overlooked.

Illustration showing windows wrapping around buildings

Residents privacy should not be compromised when considering solutions to achieving surveillance. Design solutions should be considered to overcome any possible conflict, including layout design and the location of windows, horizontal distances and level changes between the dwellings and the public realm.

Illustration showing how to protect privacy whilst providing security

Lighting: New development should incorporate appropriate lighting to deter crime at night. Lighting should be:

  • White to make colours and people easier to recognise.
  • Energy efficient.
  • Designed into schemes and targeted.
  • Meet the relevant standards.
  • Be timed, dimmed or photosensitive where appropriate.

Commercial/industrial development

Commercial/industrial developments can also maximise natural surveillance. Where possible service yards should be overlooked by neighbouring compatible developments. In high risk areas it may be appropriate to install CCTV.

Mixed uses

Mixed use developments and mixed household types will be mutually beneficial to the different occupiers in terms of security.


  1. Do dwellings front onto the street?
  2. Do principal entrances front onto the street?
  3. How has residential and commercial industrial natural surveillance been optimised?
  4. Has the development scheme avoided blank facades?