Public Realm Information & Advice Network

quality public realm 
Oxford, Radcliff Camera

Welcome to the Civic Society Pages

PRIAN and the Civic Voice are passionate about empowering local civic societies to improve their streets and have the ability to help your organisation.

We have technical expertise that may be helpful in improving the appearance of your town, village or locality. Often by simply removing street clutter, the real character of a street or whole area can be improved.

Reducing unnessary road signs safely- Department for Transport

Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP - Secretary of State for Transport

“ I urge other councils to think about
where traffic signs are placed
and whether they are needed at all.”

Creative thinking and skilled use of highway regulations are recommended to highway engineers to reduce the number of road signs on our streets.
Some 9,000 signs are thought to have been removed but more can be done. Areas and councils vary. More progressive areas are complimented for reducing street clutter and reducing the costs of installation and maintenance in times when budgets are constantly being challenged. Councils mentioned in particular are London, Hampshire and Somerset.

Rip down pointless road signs, says Patrick McLoughlin

The government plans to give councils more discretion over where they place signs, with new rules expected in 2014.  Training will be required for engineers and safety auditors to feel confident with such initiatives and guidance.

The Department of Transport review highlighted councils in England which they say are "leading the way" on removing superfluous signage.

Link to BBC news article
Link to Telegraph article



Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles & Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond urge councils to remove unnecessary street clutter

Where to get advice

• Email us with specific technical questions about how to get a sign removed.

• Council officers can keep their CPD up to date with Professional certificate in Design & Management of the Public Realm

• 5 Easy wins to Cut Clutter>  Click here to our Top Tips page

Eric Pickles has said that traffic signs and street clutter damage the character of towns and villages. Streets and junctions with lots of signs can also confuse drivers.

Department for Transport is reviewing policy to help councils reduce the clutter.
Established schemes in London's The Strand and High Street Kensington have proved that less clutter can also be safe. Rural villages like Bibury in the Cotswolds and Clifton in Cumbria are schemes of reducing street clutter safely with the backing of the Department for Transport.

Mr Pickles said: "Our streets are losing their English character. We are being overrun by scruffy signs, bossy bollards, patchwork paving and railed off roads, wasting taxpayers' money that could be better spent on fixing potholes or keeping council tax down. We need to 'cut the clutter'.

Our technical advisers can help you on all aspects of clutter removal: Legal & safe solutions, best practise, heritage areas, highway protocol, asset management
Click here to email us: [email protected]


    Village traffic calming and rural roads

Village school traffic calming - before
Traffic calming at the village schoolvillage school traffic calming

Clifton village in Cumbria is on the major trunk route of the A6. It is used by large farming vehciels and is an emergncy route alternative for the M6.

The low cost calming scheme has slowed traffic throught the village and restored the village rural quality. Simple and low cost methods include, planters, reduced white lines and built out kerbs. Drivers are encouraged to slow and the character is enhanced with soft landscapling and simple signage at the village entrances.

The scheme complys to Department for Transport Guidance and is featured in their document, LTN 1/08 'Traffic Management and Streetscape'

Friends of the Lake District website:
Link to scheme overview

Civic Voice: the new voice for civic society movement

Following the closure of the Civic Trust and much consultation, Civic Voice has taken over the mantel to be a voice for the many civic and amenity societies. The organisation has been nurtured by National Trust and English Heritage to take the message forward.

With support from David Cameron and Nick Clegg for the Love Local campaign, they are well on the way to achieving lasting improvements.

Love Local

Top 5 things people love about where they live:

1. Lots of open space and gardens
2. Having a natural setting and views
3. A friendly and spirited community
4. Well cared for historic buildings
5. A range of cultural and community activities

Civic Voice
For more information
click here



Griff Rhys Jones, speaking on his passion for streets.


At the Civic Society Initiative's recent event to support local societies with a unified voice

How can you improve your streets?
Look at our two pictures. One shows what, sadly, is a typical cluttered street.
The second, a sketch of the same street shows that when clutter is removed,
the effect is positive and dramatic.

With a unified approach, smaller low cost improvements allow the character
of a place to shine through.


A typical cluttered street.

Signs, paving, workmanship could all be improved.

The character of the town is overshadowed by the clutter.

Improving Streets
Before picture shows a typically cluttered street

The second, a sketch of the same street shows that when clutter is removed, the effect is positive and dramatic.

The area is now a much more pleasant for residents and visitors.

Street improvements

The difference between the second and the first sketches are:

No railings or guard rails

Neater traffic light arrangements.
   For more information follow link to Quality & Design Quality & Design

Far less traffic signs.
  For more information follow link to reducing the need for Keep Left signs Keep left signs

Street lights fixed to buildings, rather than on lamp columns 

   lamp on building - before    lamp on building

Neater litter bins

Neater direction signs, fixed neatly to buildings rather than on separate posts

   wall mounted sign    wall mounted sign

No redundant posts or bollards

Pavement slabs that are neat and tidy.
   For more information follow link to Construction Know How Footway maintenance 

Manhole covers that fit neatly into paving

All these things can be done within the official highway design rules, and are done by some local authorities.

Responsibilites for the street scene are spread across many departments and organisations.

Street scene responsibilities
Co-ordination and consultation of streets in historic towns

Element in the street scene
  Responsible agency or Local Authority officer
Legislative approval required
Formal co-ordination or public consultation
Bus shelters
Highway engineer
No (except adverts)
No (except adverts)
Street scene services
Cycle paths
Highway engineer &   Cycling officer   (Sustainability officer)
Cycle racks /   stands
Cycling officer   (Sustainability officer)
Flower baskets
Parks officer
Footway paving   (pavements)
Highway engineer
Graffiti cleaning
Cleansing officer
Guard rails
Highway engineer
Litter bins
Cleansing officer
Parking ticket   machines
On-street parking
Yes, Traffic
Post boxes
Royal mail
Public arts
Arts officer
Yes, T & C   Planning
Recycling bins
Cleansing officer
Rubbish cleaning
Cleansing officer
Security cameras
Security advisor
Shop fronts
Planning /   Conservation officer
Yes, T & C   Planning
Shop signs
Planning /   Conservation officer
Yes, T & C   Planning
Street lighting
Lighting officer
Yes, Traffic
Street traders
Market inspectors
Yes, Street   market
Tactile surfaces
Traffic engineer
Telephone boxes
Private pay phone   company
Traffic Signals
Traffic engineer
Yes, Traffic
Traffic Signs
Traffic engineer
Yes, Traffic



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