A New Form of Shared Space: Home Zones in the United Kingdom

Special Report: The Road, between Networks and Territories
By Pierre-Jacques Olagnier

For about ten years now the British government together with municipalities, lobbies and neighbourhood associations have been working together to create more and more Home Zones (or shared streets) in English cities. At national and local levels, Home Zones are part of sustainable transport policies aiming at favouring non-car transport, and in particular walking. These experiments illustrate the current English urban policies which emphasize the improvement of the local environment of English cities. The urban and architectural principles of the Home Zones are similar to those applied in their foreign counterparts. Although the direct purpose is to change people’s behaviour as regards motor vehicle traffic in residential districts, it also reflects a broader political objective to recreate sociability in local communities. The Home Zones must therefore become authentic places of life. The planning initiative is at the same time endogenous and exogenous in the United Kingdom, since the Home Zones constitute only one among several patterns of the shared streets model implemented internationally. These non-British experiments have inspired the people in charge of these developments. On an institutional level, this initiative is shared by very different actors among whom residents and lobbies play a significant role. If the central government and some lobbies have initiated the national Home Zones policy, these were also developed and supported at the borough’s level. During the project’s implementation, residents are involved in the various phases of decision and design of projects that will affect their community.

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