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Safer Public Places – Urban Centres and Green Spaces

The government have released a guidance document focusing on the design principles for safer urban centres and green spaces.

The guidance contains information and examples of interventions that may be undertaken by the owners and operators of public spaces to keep people safe. The following advice on social distancing in high streets and town centres provides good examples of social distancing management for retailers in these environments to be aware of.


Social distancing in high streets and town centres

High streets are the main street in a town or city and are the typical location for most shops, banks, offices and other businesses. High streets typically have high levels of footfall within constrained and complex urban environments. They have a wide variety of different and competing user groups and modes of transport.

High streets have peak usage times in the morning, lunch time, late afternoon and at the weekend. It is within high streets that conflict in achieving social distancing is most likely to arise.

Typical temporary interventions to consider for high streets and town centres:

  1. Widen footways by utilising the carriageway
  2. Reduce traffic speeds using traffic calming measures
  3. Pedestrianise and consider impact on traffic movement
  4. Suspend on street parking to facilitate other measures
  5. Minimise pinch points, whilst taking into consideration security and the needs of the disabled and elderly
  6. Safe, level crossing points
  7. Seating areas for the disabled and elderly
  8. Introduce cycleways
  9. Phase delivery timings in loading bays
  10. Queue marking indicators on pedestrian areas, focusing queues along the building frontage where appropriate
  11. Signs on social distancing and circulation, particularly at conflict points such as junctions and crossings
  12. Use existing street furniture (e.g. lampposts) for signing to avoid impacting on pedestrian flows
  13. Allow space where multiple queues meet
  14. Signs to limit queue length, helping manage multiple queues and pedestrian flows
  15. Stewards to help manage queues and pedestrian flows
  16. Keep building entrances and footpaths clear, whilst taking account of the needs of the disabled, elderly and security considerations
  17. Maximise access and introduce one-way entry and exit points
  18. Signs reminding users to socially distance at bus stop waiting areas
  19. Additional cleaning regimes and maintenance
  20. Signs at public toilets for queuing, social distancing and automatic sanitising


The guidance also includes information on safe urban centres and green spaces, and additional communication, technology and regulatory considerations.

Download the full guidance here



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