Trafford Design Code

Street design

Public realm

Street types

Streets and Public Realm

Public Realm


Public realm is defined as the space between buildings which is freely and publicly accessible to all, it is the place where people should come together. It should connect people with each other and their environment. The public realm should be designed to meet the necessary demands of our lives whilst creating joy, delight and meaning through facilitating social interaction and cohesion.


The length of time an individual or a group spend in a place and how they use it can be directly linked to the quality of the environment they encounter. Successfully designed public spaces create safer and more attractive places for people to live, visit or invest in, bringing vitality to our places.

Features of public realm design

  • Ensure spaces have good natural surveillance and are well-lit with lighting designs that consider the pedestrian experience.
  • Spaces should be legible and free of visual clutter, providing consistent materials, wayfinding and signage to aid accessibility
  • Design spaces to provide opportunities to bring people together, promote sociability, well-being and a sense of community
  • Deliver spaces that incorporate high quality hard and soft landscaping
  • Provide adequate space for play, recreation, activities and events
  • Incorporate multifunctional street furniture and avoid street clutter
  • Introduce SuDS wherever possible


Safety and Security


Streets must be safe and well overlooked through a combination of movement methods, lighting and active land uses.

Principles of a safe public realm

Overlooking windows

Active ground floors

Building entrances from street

Complete lighting coverage

Principles of a well-lit public realm

Floor level down lighters

Shared street lights

Pedestrian light poles

Overhead lights


Hostile vehicle mitigation



Wayfinding and legibility


Built examples

Example of creating a clutter free pedestrian environment


Street furniture



Public art



Desire lines






Principles of an accessible public realm

Guidance and regulations change. Refer to building regulations for full latest guidance

Footway width

It has a surface width of at least 2m. Where space does not permit, a surface width of 1.8m or 1.5m with passing places may be acceptable.

Free from obstruction

Is free from obstructions that further reduce the surface width of the footway

Height Obstructions

It is free of obstructions to a height of 2.1m.


Surface materials

Its surface is firm, durable and slip resistant, with undulations not exceeding 3mm under a 1m straight edge for formless material.


Joints between paving units

Difference in level at joints between paving units. Joints filled flush: 5mm max wide; recessed: max 5mm deep and 10mm wide; unfilled: max 5mm wide.


Different surface materials

Where there are different materials along the access route, they have similar frictional characteristics.

Forward slope

The gradient along its length is either no steeper than 1:60 along its whole length, or less steep than 1:20 with level landings introduced for each 500mm rise of the access.

Cross-fall slope

Cross-fall gradient of all paths no steeper than 1:40.


Play and recreation


Public realm case studies

Altrincham Town Centre

by Planit IE and Civic Engineers for Trafford Council The use of consistent and high quality materials harmonise the public realmThis is the space between

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Bonn Square, Oxford

Bonn Square, Oxford by Graham Massie In retaining that which is essential and of historic value, and by folding a taut sandstone surface over its

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Wellington Place, Leeds

Wellington Place, Leeds by DLG, Arup, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios Architects (FCBS), Carey Jones and Gillespies, Martha Schwartz (Landscape) Wellington Place marks an important part

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Permeable paving options