Child-friendly neighbourhoods

Home Zones, UK​


The research of Mike Biddulph and others indicates that the introduction of Home Zone design qualities has contributed to improved liveability in established residential streets in a number of areas in the UK.


A home zone is a living street (or group of streets) as implemented in the United Kingdom, which are designed primarily to meet the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, children and residents and where the speeds and dominance of the cars is reduced.  They were influenced by the Dutch woonerf (‘living yard’) concept and can be seen to be a forerunner of shared space/integrated street design. The term is believed to originate with the road safety campaigner Barbara Preston in the early 1990s.[1] Home Zones to some extent are a pre-cursor to Play Streets.

[1] See the discussion of safe play spaces and safety zones in Preston, B. (1990) The Impact of the Motor Car. Brefi Press, Tregaron. 164-165.

Transformational measures and activities

A Home Zone can be described as an outdoor room, which is demarcated by a gateway which indicates to drivers that the physical environment is about to change. In essence, the design of a Home Zone should make motorists feel that they are a guest in a predominantly pedestrian environment. Though each Home Zone is unique, there are common features that should make motorised traffic slow down and change behaviour. These include traffic calming, shared surfaces, echelon parking, bollards, planters, benches and play areas.


Biddulph’s review of 14 Home Zone schemes implemented in the UK between 2002 and 2006 found that although the concept had not been fully implemented in all cases, these schemes exhibited lower traffic speeds and continued low or reduced numbers of traffic accidents compared to conditions before the Home Zones were implemented. Speed surveys were conducted for eight of the schemes, with five exhibiting speed reductions of 5 mph or more. There was information on accident rates for 12 of the schemes, with eight experiencing either no change or a small reduction. In total, for the 12 schemes overall there was found to be 3.4 less accidents per year. Residents reported that they now felt their streets were safer for their children and more attractive than they were previously. Some of those in high crime areas experienced reduced levels of crime and antisocial behaviour, although these results were not obtained everywhere. Evidence that the treatments resulted in more socialising among adults was less convincing but in general were the projects are very well received by residents, demonstrating that this approach to street design improves liveability. However, the evidence suggests that similar effects might be realised with less comprehensive and expensive solutions. Detailed studies of other schemes such as the Centre for Transport and Society’s study of the Southville scheme in Bristol found similar results. Before and after surveys found perceived improvements quality of life factors, such as traffic speeds and pedestrian safety, with residents reporting that they spent more time outside in the street and drove more safely. Speed surveys on the Stackpool Road indicated a 50% reduction in the 85th percentile speeds.

Indicative Effort

Challenges, opportunities and transferability

Home Zones faces similar challenges to Integrated Street Design. Biddulph reports large variations in the implementation costs per metre, although some of this might be related to the different quality of treatments. A major barrier to transferability was seen to be the lack of robust monitoring and evaluation studies and hence the lack of empirical evidence to disprove a perception that Home Zones could be unsafe.

In depth