Active Design Principles

Active Design is about designing and adapting where we live to encourage activity in our everyday lives. It’s a combination of ten principles that promote activity, health and stronger communities through the way we design and build our towns and cities.

Active Design Guidance has been produced by Sport England in partnership with Public Health England. This guidance builds on the original objectives of improving accessibility, enhancing amenity and increasing awareness, and sets out the ten principles of Active Design. Our ten principles have been developed to inspire and inform the layout of cities, towns, villages, neighbourhoods, buildings, streets and open spaces, to promote sport and active lifestyles.

Active Design Principles have been embedded within the Essex Design Guide to identify ten key areas where specific design guidance can help to activate spaces.

Socially inclusive design serves to activate spaces such as streets by prioritising the main user, such as the pedestrian. Active, well-populated spaces are generally more successful, safer, better managed and can add more value to the surrounding environment. Active design also identifies opportunities to encourage and promote sport and physical activity by creating settings conducive to healthier lifestyles.

The following topics discussed within the guide contain information relevant to Active Design Principles:

  • Activity for all
  • Walkable communities
  • Connected walking and cycle routes
  • Co-location of community facilities
  • Multifunctional open spaces
  • High-quality streets and spaces
  • Appropriate infrastructure
  • Active buildings
  • Management, maintenance, monitoring and evaluation
  • Activity promotion and local champions

People’s behaviour is often influenced by how they feel about a place. Well-designed environments that meet community needs and are well-managed tend to be safer than places that are not. Research identifies preferential zones of active space, so it becomes increasingly important to design an established system in an alternate way to cater to safer play, giving the main user priority. Street furniture, ground markings or material change can all contribute to a well-used, active space and help to populate streets, with the added benefit of reducing opportunities for crime.

Active Design Principles are addressed throughout all sections within the EDG.


Page updated: 9/02/2018


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