Designing for safety and amenity Print

Design Outcome

​Design Checklist

  1. ​The house, front yard and boundary treatments help to make the street a safe and attractive place.


Attractive, desirable and safe neighbourhoods are largely ​the result of the building facades and front yards that run along their street edges.

Locating the house close to the street, having outlook from a main living space onto the street and avoiding large blank retaining walls and fencing means that occupants can see what is happening on the road outside the house. This ‘passive surveillance’ discourages crime and creates a sense of safety.

When combined with attractive, human scaled landscaping these features also make for a pleasant, varied streetscape, which increases the general amenity of the wider neighbourhood and encourages walking and cycling.

Better Design Practice

Ensure the street can be seen from a kitchen, living or dining room, and ensure fencing and landscaping does not block views from the building to the street, or vice versa.

Make front fencing low.
It should not be more than 1200mm high. Place any high fencing behind the main facade of the house.​​

Avoid the use of visually impermeable materials for front fencing.
The use of visually permeable front fencing generally creates a softer, more pleasant streetscape, especially​ when combined with front yard planting. Solid front yard fencing (e.g. stone walls) may be appropriate in locations where it reflects an existing historic character.​​

Locate garages or car parking structures behind the front facade of the building (see Accommodating the car).

Avoid large blank walls that will be visible from the str

Make the front door clearly visible, include sheltering and a light.

Clearly define the spaces between the house and the street to make it obvious what is public and what is private.
This can be done with fencing, landscaping or a combination of both. ​

If wheelchair accessible ramps are required or intended, integrate these into the landscape design.
A wheelchair accessible ramp should have a maximum gradient of 1:12 with flat areas at each end and at intervals if it is long. Ramps which are too steep are unsafe. To accommodate people of differing levels of physical ability it is better to provide deep, shallow stairs with a handrail.​

​Step any high retaining wall that is visible from the street or a public place and integrate planting and high quality materials into its design.
​Improve the look of large retaining walls and reduce the potential for graffiti by: 
  • Establishing planting in front of the wall and between stepped sections; 
  • Using low permeable fencing at the top of the wall; 
  • Using rough materials, e.g. stone; 
  • Breaking up the horizontal length of walls and fencing i.e. by using vertical elements or stepping the wall horizontally; 
  • Staining or painting the wall and fencing with dark colours.​

Rules of Thumb

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