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Empowering communities through Street Design

By Emily Davie,
Community group accepting grant

DG1 Neighbours accepting grant from Sustrans after becoming a constituted community group.

When thinking about improving neighbourhoods, an often overlooked but vital element in the design process is involving those who live, work and travel through an area.

Liveable neighbourhoods are about more than just place and movement. First and foremost, they’re about people. If we want to ensure the success of walking and cycling projects, we must ensure the views, knowledge and experience local people have to offer is at the forefront of discussions.

Involving communities at the beginning of a design process right through to completion, ensures projects have a lasting legacy in the local area as it empowers those who live there to take ownership of the project long into the future.

Creating Liveable Neighbourhoods in Scotland

Our Scotland Street Design projects empower communities to change the physical quality of the places and spaces they live in, through extensive engagement to encourage buy-in to the projects right from the start. They are high impact and have been proven to deliver increased levels of active travel in neighbourhoods.

This is because we:

  • Inform and listen to communities.
  • Involve stakeholders using interactive engagement methods.
  • Consult through a design iteration process.
  • Empower through designs that people can take ownership of and make people proud.

Our work in Dumfries

Since 2013, we have been working in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council, residents and businesses to transform a once neglected part of Dumfries into a more liveable, inclusive and active travel-friendly neighbourhood. 

This exemplar project embodies the key principles of supporting community aspirations, leadership and promoting active travel outlined in Designing Streets, the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act (2015) and the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland.

We designed an engagement programme that worked directly with people to create a more active travel-friendly neighbourhood by reducing vehicle speeds and improving place quality.

This was done by running a series events that brought people together to strengthen their sense of social connection and empowerment. Through these, we were able to identify local aspirations to reinforce the Victorian Heritage of the area and early interventions which could improve the sense of security and reinforce the place identity such as upgrading the street lighting upgrades make making new street nameplates.

Securing a project legacy

A priority of the project was to support and enable the community to develop their own solutions to the problems they raised through on-street events, design workshops and street trials.

As a result, the residents have come together to form a constituted community group, meaning they are now able to access funding and grants to help maintain the improvements to their local area. To mark the occasion, the group have been awarded a £1,000 grant by Sustrans to help kick-start works.

By becoming officially recognised as a constituted group, residents have ensured that the legacy of the Neighbourhood Street Design Project will continue long into the future.

Watch this short film to find out how the project has impacted local residents:

Street Design Application 2018/19

To help more organisations and local authorities access our Street Design team as a resource to improve local neighbourhoods and communities, we are setting up a formal application process for 2018/19.

Interested organisations will be able to submit a proposal for a Street Design project in their area through our online grant application portal.

The portal will open for applications on the 22nd January 2018.

Find out more about Street Design in Scotland