Home Zones are residential streets designed to improve local quality of life. They aim to strike a better balance between the needs of drivers and other street users such as pedestrians – especially children and older people – and cyclists. Changes to the layout of the street emphasise this change of use, so motorists perceive that they should give informal priority to other road users.
|Romsey Town: Dominated by cars, to such an extent that they now take over pavement space too, with the blessing of the authorities.|
In June 2002, the Institute of Highway Incorporated Engineers published new guidance on Home Zones which collated the experience gained from the nine pilot studies that were carried out round the country and which shared that experience with transport professionals and community groups.
Indeed, Transport Minister David Jamieson, who launched the new guide, drew particular attention to that point. He said: ‘I encourage local councils, communities and residents associations to use this guidance and think about how Home Zones can improve the quality of life of their local area.’
Just improving the appearance of a street has a big impact. Streets have become dominated by cars, and their reconstruction to break up the house – garden – pavement – road – pavement – garden – house arrangement breaks this down and starts to reduce the domination.
There are problems implementing Home Zones. The foremost problem is cost. Reconstructing a street is not cheap: it costs many hundreds of thousands of pounds if done properly. Unfortunately, new streets are still nearly always constructed in the traditional pattern, although the cost of constructing them differently at this stage would be negligible. The Government has put £30 million into a fund to develop Home Zones further, and is now supporting 61 schemes (none in our area). That’s half a million pounds per scheme on average.
|Esdelle Street in Norwich has the feel of a Home Zone even though it isn’t one of the trials.|
The second problem is that, unlike their Dutch equivalent called Woonerf (‘Living Street’), pedestrian and cyclist priority is not backed up by legislation. The standard of ‘due care and attention’ needs to be much higher in Home Zones.
We will be obtaining a copy of the guidance shortly.