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Footway widths

Acceptable footway widths

The City of London Corporation makes use of the Gehl standard of a maximum of 13 pedestrians per metre of unobstructed footway per minute when assessing appropriate footway widths in the City.

Flows at or below this threshold generally afford sufficient opportunities for people to comfortably pause and linger without feeling as though they are obstructing others. This threshold was recommended in the Transport for London-sponsored study "Towards a Fine City for People: Public Spaces and Public Life" (2004) and adopted in "Manual for Streets Two: Wider Application of the Principles" (September 2010), which is endorsed by HM Government.

The City seeks to ensure that all its footways provide this level of service and may undertake footway widening, remove street furniture, require buildings to be set back upon redevelopment or refuse or revoke permission for public ame​nities on the highway (eg tables and chairs) in order to reduce crowding, particularly at peak periods.

However, even for areas with lower pedestrian flows, application of the Gehl standard may still result in unacceptably narrow footways. The City has therefore adopted two sets of minimum footway widths, one for footways in areas with bus stops and/or a significant proportion of A1, A3, A4 and/or A5 land uses and/or visitor or tourist attractions (Class I) and one for footways in other areas (Class II).

​Number of pedestrians per hour Class I​ Class II​
Fewer than 600 ​ 2.6 m​ 2.0 m​
Between 600 and 1,200  3.3 m​ 2.2 m​
More than 1,200 5.0 m​ 3.3 m​

There is no maximum footway width. Even the widest streets in the City do not have sufficient space for footways that are too wide to make efficient use of land.

Measurement of pedestrian flows

Pedestrian flows should normally be counted for one hour between 8am and 9am. For more minor matters, including most applications for public amenities on the highway (eg tables and chairs), counting for a 15-minute period between 8am and 9am or between 5pm and 6pm will usually be sufficient.​

Published:
22 May 2012
Last Modified:
29 September 2017

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