Identifying street environments is a method for supporting project team discussions about how to balance Movement and Place. Aided by using a common language, the aim is to agree on a shared understanding of the existing and desired street environments within the study area.
Road classification involves determining the appropriate authority for a road.
The core team in a movement and place project will need to determine the road classification conditions for their study area. In accordance with the Roads Act 1993, the legal classification of a road empowers Transport for NSW to exercise broad authority over some, or all, aspects of legally classified roads and to provide financial assistance to councils.
To simplify the administration of the various legal road classes, the roads in which Transport for NSW has an interest and council roads are grouped into a three tier administrative classification system of State, Regional and Local Roads.
Under the NSW road classification system, State roads are operated by Transport for NSW. Motorways are operated by the relevant Motorway Authority. Regional and local roads are operated by local governments. However, TfNSW may have a significant interest in the operation of a local or regional road if it adversely impacts the operation of an adjoining state road.
Local roads are primarily designed and delivered by local governments. State roads and, to a lesser extent, regional roads will be co-designed and delivered by the respective council and TfNSW. TfNSW will take a collaborative approach with local governments for the design of State roads and regional roads to ensure that appropriate street designs are implemented successfully.
While road classification establishes ownership and responsibility for managing and maintaining roads and streets, it doesn’t describe their roles, characteristics and functions. This is why the NSW Movement and Place Framework establishes a system for describing:
To analyse the combinations of Movement and Place, the NSW Movement and Place Framework identifies four street environments:
- Civic spaces
- Local streets
- Main streets
- Main roads
Each type of street environment has typical characteristics. However, this does not equate with a set of rules, assumptions or planning outcomes. The complex nature of our transport networks and our customers’ needs means that every road and street is different, and should be considered individually within its own context.
These streets are at the heart of our communities and have a significant meaning, activity function or built environment. They are often in our major centres, tourist and leisure destinations and community hubs. They are places for people, with a priority on place.
We need to support the place quality of these street environments by giving priority to pedestrians; providing safe, low-speed environments; managing freight and deliveries; providing easy access to cycle routes and public transport; and limiting through-traffic.
These are the majority of the streets in our communities. They often have important local place qualities. Activity levels are less intense than for civic spaces, but these streets can have significant meaning to local people. Town and village main streets are usually 'local streets'.
To support these streets we need to provide access for walking, cycling and private vehicles; safe, low-speed environments; easy access to public transport; and access for local deliveries while limiting through-traffic.
These streets are some of the most vibrant places in our cities and towns. They have both significant movement functions and place qualities. Balancing the functions of these streets is a common challenge.
Historically, main streets were distinguishable by their primary name (Summer Street in Orange, as distinct from the Mitchell Highway). However, growth and change in place intensity in the past century has resulted in many of our current main streets retaining the designation 'highway' or 'road', despite their changed function. Examples are the Pacific Highway, Charlestown, and Parramatta Road/Great Western Highway, Leichhardt.
To support main streets we need to improve place qualities while providing access for walking and cycling and safe, low-speed environments, while also allowing for the efficient movement of people and freight. Trade‐offs and compromises may be required.
These roads and routes are central to the efficient movement of people and goods. They include motorways, primary freight corridors, major public transport routes, the principal bicycle network and key urban pedestrian corridors. Their place activity levels are less intense. However, these roads and routes can have significant meaning to local people.
To support these roads and routes we need to prioritise their strategic movement functions. We can limit negative impacts to place qualities or community severance through their planning, design and operation.
Street identification involves analysing the movement function and place intensity of roads and streets to determine the appropriate street environment and street type.
Street identification applies universally to state, regional, and local roads and is a separate activity from road classification.
It is vital that street identification applies a ‘vision and validate’ approach.
Vision and validate involves identifying roads and streets based on the desired state of place intensity and movement function rather than by accepting a default perception based on either the road or street’s current performance or its road classification.
Before starting street identification – compile the vision, place, and movement analysis
Street identification is positioned at Step 4.2 in the NSW Movement and Place Core Process, and founded upon a clear understanding of the vision, place intensity, and the movement function of the roads and streets under investigation. This information should either be available from recent studies or, if not, should be gathered anew for this exercise.
Refer to Implementing a Movement and Place Approach for more information about the Movement and Place Core Process.
Street environment identification
Determine which is the appropriate street environment.
- For small scale projects, both place and movement practitioners analyse the movement function and place intensity of roads and streets and apply their professional judgement.
- For larger scale projects, street identification should be part of the collaboration between the core team and stakeholders to ensure local communities are genuinely engaged in this exercise. This is an ideal discussion to conduct in a workshop during the Issues and Opportunities stage.
There are some important ideas to consider when making these identifications:
- Identification is relative to the local place context– it is not a function of the planning hierarchy of centres. As anexample, any relatively high place intensity and low movement function streets can be identified as civic spaces – these spaces do not have to be in major cities or strategic centres.
- Identification empowers project teams and stakeholders to make professional and community-based judgements – it is not a technical and data-driven computation based on a formula. To achieve this, it is vital that projects commission both place and movement practitioners equally in resourcing and influence to ensure that both aspects are equally represented in project outcomes.
These ideas can enable the guidance to remain relatively simple while enabling more contextually relevant place and movement outcomes.
Street type identification
Determine the most appropriate road or street type.
There are two alternative options for this step:
- Identify street types for all roads and streets within a study area. This is appropriate for street or precinct-scale projects where the entirety of the road and street network is being reviewed.
- Identify street types for only selected roads and streets. This is appropriate for regional or district scale projects, where specific roads and streets are identified for strategic changes. In this instance, this targeted street type identification is an exercise to be undertaken when working at multiple scales.
Mapping street environments
Street environment identification should ideally be drawn on a map. This provides a spatial view of the road and street network, enabling a better understanding of how each of these spaces is integrated as an urban system.
This district scale plan drawing shows street environment identification in ‘Wattletown’, a fictional settlement that is representative of many common NSW place contexts.
Some simple graphic considerations can be used to improve clarity and consistency across the industry:
- Each of the four street environments has a distinct colour in Movement and Place.
- The line weight of each segment corresponds with the width of the road or street reservation, providing additional clarity on how each part of the network contributes to the whole.
Street types can also be drawn on a map, especially for smaller areas. At larger scales, it may be challenging to legibly express the diversity of street environments. However, street environments can also be split into layers on separate drawings, enabling simpler and clearer maps to be drawn for civic spaces, main streets, local streets, and main roads.