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Common Design Elements

Common Design Elements are parts of the railway with a standardised appearance which will give the railway a recognisable look.

Sketch of a viaduct crossing over a field.
Viaduct with piers and parapets in a rural setting.

During January 2020, we asked for views and ideas on some of the detailed aspects of three of our proposed Common Design Elements (CDEs): parapets, piers and lineside noise barriers. We received 457 replies and have now published our Survey Response Document summarising these. Popular themes included:

  • The design of the structure and materials used generated the most responses, with using concrete in rural settings raising most concern. Landscape ranked as most important in the rural setting, with references made to ensuring the CDEs blended into the existing landscape and considered local history and interest.
  • Suggestions that CDEs include natural fences, vegetation, living gardens and green walls to discourage vandalism and graffiti, alongside support for the development of strategies, including arts and culture, with local communities.
  • Security and safety, including lighting and CCTV proved the most important theme for the CDEs design.

Our responses are set out in a series of tables within the document, including:

  • Recognition that careful consideration of how the structure integrates with the landscape is paramount, with designs that consider local character and respond to the landscape and visual effects identified in the HS2 Environmental Statement. HS2 is aligned to the tradition of other, and historic, major rail building projects which used the best methods and materials, including concrete. In some instances, patterned or textured concrete could be used to enhance the appearance of concrete CDE structures
  • Confirmation that design of the railway structures and landscape reinstatement must be considered holistically, including spaces under bridges and viaducts, which could contribute to placemaking opportunities, habitat creation and wildlife corridors, promoting community involvement and local ownership.
  • We propose a ‘no tolerance’ approach to graffiti which worked well on HS1. Opportunities for other vandalism will be minimised by Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), minimising anti-social behaviours.

The use of CDEs is not mandated, and some locations may call for a different design response to that provided by CDE guidelines. In such cases appropriate designs will be developed in consultation with the local planning authority.

Finally, design of lineside noise barriers is continuing, and we are considering how these structures can satisfy technical requirements and deliver a contextual response. When the design has matured, an addendum to this report will outline how this was achieved.

Responses have also been shared with the Local Planning Authorities on the route of Phase One of HS2, to help with their planning processes.

Document history

24 November 2020
24 November 2020