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Principle: To ensure that community safety, security and residential amenity is not compromised by connectivity

Balancing safety and permeability

Connected street patterns are an important feature of good urban design and where they reduce the segregation and isolation of sites they contribute to community safety and also encourage walking and cycling. However, neighbourhood connectivity may sometimes conflict with safety principles, by providing escape routes or areas that are not overlooked. A balance needs to be struck between the need to achieve clear and direct routes through a new development and community safety. Planning authorities will expect developers to have addressed this issue.

There should be a clear identified need or benefit for the existence of all routes, so that they are busy and well used.

A key route to Hitchin's central square creates a busy street, with an attractive active frontage 

Illustration showing active shop frontages

Dwellings in cul-de-sacs should not normally be joined by networks of footpaths. These can be infrequently used, may provide escape routes and are often not overlooked.

Where footpaths between cul-de-sacs are considered to be necessary in the interests of permeability, they should be limited to a small number of principle routes and designed to address safety principles.

A short pedestrian link overlooked by neighbouring properties, Bishops Stortford 

Illustration showing good footpath route

Designing necessary and direct routes

Careful consideration should be given to the location of new routes and public and semi-public spaces.

New routes should be planned at the design stage and should lead people where they want to go. They should also reflect existing routes, desire lines and movement patterns, so unnecessary routes are avoided. Where through routes are deemed necessary in residential areas they should be kept to a minimum.

Safe routes to schools should particularly be encouraged.

Where it is felt appropriate to have dwellings on the back of a footway, to either create variety in the street scene or to reflect local character, these routes should generally not be through routes.

Public access to rear gardens should be avoided, where possible. Pathways for residents leading to the backs of properties should have a lockable gate placed as near to the front of the building line as possible.

Pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles can be successfully integrated along the same route, Hatfield

A well defined movement framework
A movement framework for a development scheme should focus people and vehicles onto a small number of principal routes, rather than under-used and segregated streets and footpaths.

Routes should be designated so that pedestrians/cyclists/vehicles run alongside one another. They should always be overlooked by surrounding buildings and activities. However, there are exceptional cases where strong desire lines exist, meaning that the segregation of vehicles and pedestrians is unavoidable. When this is the case routes should be short, direct and overlooked.

Ideally pedestrians and vehicles should be kept at the same level to avoid creating intimidating places such as subways, footbridges, underpasses and areas under viaducts.

Where subways are unavoidable, they should be as wide and as short as possible with the exit visible from the entry. Natural light should be introduced in the centre and there should be high levels of artificial light. CCTV maybe a useful addition.


  1. Is there an identified need for all routes?
  2. Have issues such as the need to focus people and vehicles onto a small number of principal routes and the need for routes to be overlooked and well lit, been adequately addressed in the development scheme?
  3. Have all routes been designed to be safe and secure?