How we do community-led street design

We bring communities together to help them redesign their streets and public spaces so that they are healthier, greener and more attractive places in which to live and play.


We're grounded in communities.

And we believe involving local communities through a collaborative design (co-design) approach is essential to deliver successful schemes.

Why involve local communities?

Local people are experts on their streets.

Years of travelling through their neighbourhood by foot, by bike or by car results in a deep awareness of the issues and innovative solutions for them.

Gaining input from the community early on provides access to in-depth local knowledge and can save on monitoring, traffic count and modelling costs upfront.

By engaging closely with local people from the beginning and ensuring proposals tackle the problems they identify, the risk of local resistance during the consultation – and a change of heart from our politicians – is substantially reduced. 

How do we do collaborative design?

Our collaborative design process puts the people who use the streets at the heart of designing solutions to local issues.

The approach we take is far more in-depth than standard engagement processes. Our early and ongoing engagement means we reach out to all the people that use the street.

We work hard to create multiple opportunities for the community to share their expertise and thoughts with our design professionals.

We host on-street pop-up events, parent's coffee mornings at the local school. We do site visits with people who travel in wheelchairs and join refuse collectors for their morning shift.

We follow three simple rules:

  • provide opportunities for engagement and ensure they are accessible, comfortable and inclusive so everyone from the community can take part if they choose to
  • listen to the local community and make sure they know their voice has been heard by feeding back our findings to them afterwards
  • bring ideas to life through innovative street trials, enabling people to see and feel the change on foot, by bike or by car and then refine the changes before they are made permanent.

By working in this way, we overcome the initial resistance to change and uncertainty and enable residents to get involved and have fun in the process.

Community Engagement in the 'new normal'

Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we've had to adapt and think of new ways to engage with residents to ensure they remain at the heart of our work.

Engaging with communities during Covid-19
Children on bikes outside of a Sustrans stand in London

Improving streets in Marks Gate

We delivered a two-year project in the culturally diverse residential community of Marks Gate in East London.

Our project combined community-led street design, behaviour change and infrastructure improvements to increase opportunities for walking and cycling whilst creating a lively and more people-centred environment.

Our Marks Gate project won the 2018 London Transport Awards in the Excellence in Cycling and Walking category.

Read more about our award-winning Marks Gate project

Liverpool School Neighbourhoods

We're working with nine schools in the West Derby area of Liverpool to think up new street designs to improve safety around the school gate.

Using our first online-only consultation, we're asking residents, staff and pupils to feedback on the design proposals for four schools in the area.

Take a look at our Liverpool School Neighbourhoods project
Town centre in Scottish town with Christmas tree, walkers and two parked cars

Dunblane Stirling Street redesign

Sustrans Scotland and Stirling Council worked with the local community and businesses to reimagine the approach to the towns' railway station, to create a space that feels more welcoming, is people friendly and inclusive.

The ambitious project aimed to transform Stirling Road, linking the High Street to the railway station, into a place for people to visit, enjoy and travel slowly through.

Read more about the project
Child and family member sitting on Sustrans street design kit at street closure event

Winstree Road Community Travel Plan

We were commissioned by Essex County Council to deliver a community-led street design project in Colchester, putting the power in residents hands to have a say on how their streets can be improved.

The project aims to engage residents, pupils, teachers, councillors and other users of the area.

And it will eventually lead to temporary alterations being made to make local streets safer.

Find out more about this project

Want to find out more about our unique approach to community-led street design? Get in touch.

Rachel Toms, Director of Urbanism at Sustrans

Rachel Toms

Director of Urbanism at Sustrans