Arup and Sustrans start work on Greater Manchester’s Active Neighbourhoods

Brad Ryan Former UKIMEA Press Officer,London
25 February 2021

As the Government continues to encourage cycling and walking as an alternative to car travel as part of its 10-point plan for a net-zero transition, Arup and Sustrans have begun work with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and the local councils to design 10 Active Neighbourhood schemes (also known as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods) across the Greater Manchester city region. 

Arup is delivering this ambitious 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.

Image: © Harry Gray

The Active Neighbourhood schemes form part of the Bee Network, a 10-year plan for Greater Manchester to deliver 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. 

Work has begun with communities in Bolton, Bury and Stockport to gather feedback from local residents on what they like and dislike about the streets in their area, whether they would support measures to reduce rat-running, and how they could improve walking and cycling links to local parks, schools and transport hubs.


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. ” james tate James Tate Active Neighbourhoods Project Manager, Arup

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. Community engagement is central to our design process and under normal circumstances this is carried out through group meetings and workshops, so the pandemic throws up obvious challenges. Our team will be working hard to ensure that we give as many local people as possible the chance to have their say through online workshops, printed leaflets delivered to residents, and an interactive website.”

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.”

Active neighbourhoods are funded through the Mayor’s Challenge Fund.