Arup and Sustrans start work on Greater Manchester’s active neighbourhoods

North George Street filter in central Salford. Photo by Harry Gray.

Arup and Sustrans have begun work with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and the local councils to design ten Active Neighbourhood schemes across the Greater Manchester city region.

Also known as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, the work comes at a pivotal time in the UK’s transition to net-zero as the government promotes cycling and walking as an alternative to car travel.

Arup is delivering the project in partnership with Sustrans and 10GM. The partners were chosen by TfGM because of their clear understanding of the need to put community engagement and community co-design at the heart of a scheme. TfGM believe this is critical to the successful design and implementation of its Active Neighbourhoods programme.

The project involves Arup and Sustrans working closely with residents and other stakeholders to design an Active Neighbourhood scheme in each of the Greater Manchester local authority areas.

The Active Neighbourhoods project aims to prioritise the movement, health and safety of people over cars. This includes using modal filters such as benches, planters or bollards to reduce traffic on residential streets, increasing walking and cycling for local journeys, and creating quieter, more attractive places for residents to chat and children to play.

The Active Neighbourhood schemes form part of the Bee Network, a 10-year plan for Greater Manchester to deliver what is claimed will be the UK’s largest joined-up cycling and walking network, eventually spanning 1,800 miles. 

The focus is on enabling people to leave the car at home for everyday trips to school or to the shops. This will contribute to the one million additional daily sustainable journeys Greater Manchester wants to achieve by 2040, while also having wider benefits to health, congestion and clean air.

James Tate, Arup active neighbourhoods project manager, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic, and measures put in place to mitigate the spread of the virus, have resulted in extraordinary levels of active travel, such as walking and cycling, across the UK. With this, we’ve seen many cities temporarily reap the benefits of improved air quality, safer streets and stronger communities. Local councils now have the unique opportunity to create long-term behaviour change, in which active transport becomes the norm, by putting the right infrastructure in place across the UK’s cities.

“That’s why we are really excited to be delivering TfGM’s Active Neighbourhoods project, focusing on the need to design residential streets that allow people to access local facilities and public transport by foot and by cycle, and delivering the health, air quality and safety benefits of reduced road traffic. We are confident the project will help deliver a huge range of improvements for the Greater Manchester city-region.”

Rory Davis, principal urban designer at Sustrans, said: “We’re very excited to be working with local communities on this ambitious programme, which will help transform residential streets across many areas in Greater Manchester that suffer from high road traffic accidents, health problems and poor transport links.”

Chris Boardman, cycling and walking commissioner for Greater Manchester, said: “Over the last decade, traffic levels on main roads have barely risen, but journeys on residential streets have risen by a staggering 45%. That’s five billion more miles being driven every year past people’s front doors, mostly by people using what should be quiet neighbourhood streets as shortcuts, and that’s not right.

“By stopping through traffic but keeping full access to homes for people who need to go there, active neighbourhoods prioritise those that call it home.”

If you would like to contact Rob O’Connor about this, or any other story, please email