Walking at Holborough Marshes

Rural Streets and Lanes - A Design Handbook


The Kent Downs AONB, which covers a quarter of Kent, is a nationally important landscape, on a par legally with National Parks. One of the key features of this beautiful landscape is the extensive network of roads, lanes and route ways. Many of these highways are very historic and are highly valued for their nature conservation, landscape and heritage importance. The highways network now has to meet the increasing demands and pressures of 21 st century use, for transportation and communication as well as for countryside recreation and agricultural access. The design and maintenance of highways to meet this multitude of uses, and yet conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape is a complex and demanding challenge.


The Kent Downs AONB partnership employed consultants Halcrow Group, with support from Kent County Council, the Countryside Agency (now Natural England) and the European Regional Development Fund, to produce a Streetscape Design Handbook for the AONB. This aims to provide high quality detailed design guidance for the conservation and maintenance of the special characteristics of the AONB roads and highway network. This will be the second in a suite of three AONB Design Handbooks – the first was on Landscape Design successfully published in 2005, and the third will follow at a later date on Building Design.


The Handbook presents innovations and new principles of good design practice in rural highways and settlements, as well as addressing multi-use of roads and highways. It looks at the many different aspects of the AONB highways landscape including:

  • management and conservation of habitats and wildlife in the highways
  • conservation of historic features
  • signage and waymarking
  • gateway treatments and traffic calming in rural settlements
  • fencing and other boundary treatments
  • consideration for all road users
  • new road and road improvement schemes

Who is the Handbook for?

The Kent Downs AONB Rural Streets and Lanes Design Handbook aims to advise and assist officers and members with a role or responsibility for highways and roads from:

  • public bodies
  • local authorities and parish councils
  • government agencies
  • statutory undertakers and public utility companies who all have a statutory ’ duty of regard’ to the purposes of the AONB, as defined in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

It should also prove useful to farmers, landowners and anyone involved in land, countryside and estate management.

Further Information


To read an on line version click here