Road Investment Strategy includes new roads design panel

Minister calls for new vision for highways design

Roads minister John Hayes has revealed plans for a roads design panel to make transport schemes more beautiful and to end the perception of new highways as ‘ugly necessities’.

Hayes said that the UK has allowed bad design to become ubiquitous, with ‘hideous footbridges’, unnecessary light pollution and roads that divide the landscape rather than threading through it. ‘Everyone will have their own worst example in mind,’ he said, citing his as the Boston Manor viaduct.

Hayes noted how good designers have been ‘driven to conformity’, not by lack of vision, but by lack of funds. ‘We allowed sub-standard, ubiquitous, drab, cheap, soul-sapping design to proliferate, until it become the norm.’

Through the recently announced Road Investment Strategy, Hayes says, ‘we can instill sound new design principles right at the start of infrastructure development – so aesthetics and environmental issues are considered alongside engineering and local planning.’

Good design need be no more expensive than bad design, he says. ‘We accepted this with HS2, Crossrail and the 2012 Olympics’.

By involving different groups at an earlier stage, the minister adds, ‘we can speed up the planning process for major schemes by securing a consensus on aesthetics, which are so often a cause of dismay and delay in the planning, when the schemes are in their infancy’.

This would not just save money in the long run, he asserts, ‘it would also encourage a wider appreciation of the environmental impact of schemes’.

You can read John Hayes’ speech here.

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