Dunstable - giving back your high street

Long term improvements to Dunstable High Street

Subject to funding, we are also hoping to make the following longer-term improvements.

Change the crossroads to be more pedestrian-friendly and enable a better flow of traffic throughout the town where the High Street, Church Street and West Street meet.

The junction still needs to be controlled with traffic lights, but it will be made smaller and the pedestrian crossings will be moved closer to the junction and combined with the junction traffic lights. They will be changed from staggered crossings to straight-across 'Toucan' crossings (crossings where both pedestrians and cyclists cross the road) on all four sides of the cross roads. This means pedestrians won't need to walk as far to get across the junction, and traffic will no longer be held up by additional pedestrian crossings.

The sequencing of the traffic lights will be improved and can be changed by us if necessary to help traffic flow, for example if the M1 is closed.

Central reservation and wider pavements

We have widened both of the footways on High Street North and we will create an attractive central reservation down the middle of the road (see example of Hornchurch High Street). This is an area that separates the opposite lanes of traffic on roads. It will create a more pleasant environment for pedestrians to spend time, create areas to sit, and make the traffic less dominant.

By adding a central reservation we will also improve informal crossings along the High Street.

Artist's impression of Dunstable High Street

A central reservation means only one lane of traffic needs to be crossed at a time by pedestrians, leaving them relatively free to cross along the length of High Street North. Some signalised crossings will be retained, but these will be moved closer to the junctions to provide safer crossing points.

The new wider pavements and central reservation will also allow us to plant trees and use permeable surfaces and kerb drainage. Trees also help improve air quality and they are visually appealing.

Market Square

As well as improving the Market Square area by introducing new gateway features, we will also provide some additional parking south of the market square; put in a new pedestrian crossing between the square and Priory House; and introduce public activities into the square. The new parking area will be designed to reduce surface flooding, with permeable surfaces that feed rainwater to an underground tank area.

How our proposed plans will affect traffic


Widening the pavements will reduce the road width in each direction along the High Street, although multiple lanes will still be provided at the Church Street and Queensway junctions to smooth traffic flows. As we are continuing to monitor traffic flows following the M1-A5 link opening, the exact lane configurations at each junction are still to be finalised, however the intension is to maximise pavement space to enable a more of a 'café style' feel and to provide simpler, more direct pedestrian crossing points. We will also remove the bus lane on the High Street, although bus lay-bys will be provided so that passengers are separated from the main lanes of traffic.

Crossroads where High Street, Church Street and West Street meet

We have considered various layout options for this crossroads junction, including reverting back to a give-way roundabout layout. Computer traffic modelling is used to assess the impact of different possible road layouts at these crossroads: the analysis shows that any roundabout layout would not give enough room for modern vehicles to turn, and would not meet the current standards for safety and accessibility.

The computer modelling also indicates that a roundabout would not cope with the current levels and type of traffic, so the queue lengths would increase dramatically.

Length of queues at crossroads from computer modelling results (in metres)



East (Church Street)
South (High Street South
West (West Street)
North (High Street North)
East (Church Street
South (High Street South)
West (West Street)
North (High Street North)
Double mini roundabout
667 metres
615 metres
36 meters
88 metres
630 metres
888 metres
87 metres
116 metres
Single mini roundabout
144 metres
1314 metres
186 metres
882 metres
174 metres
1308 metres
660 metres
762 metres


A key element of our plans is to change the existing pedestrian and cycle crossing facilities.

Based on the current traffic volumes, existing queue lengths to the crossroads may increase on some approaches during peak periods. This is partly due to the new pedestrian crossing sequencing: all traffic arms will show a red light signal, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to cross in one go in front of the traffic during a single 'green man' signal. However when the traffic lights do go green, vehicle flow will be better, as there will be less other formal crossing points for pedestrians along the High Street. It is also because the traffic lanes will be reduced to allow for wider boulevard-style pavements.

Whilst the benefits of these changes to pedestrians and cyclists are clear, any increases to traffic queue lengths will be closely monitored. Changes to traffic signal timings will be considered more widely across Dunstable to minimise undue traffic delay, if necessary.

Carriageway widths

Artist's drawing of the new pavement and carriageway widths at the main crossroads, with pedestrian and cycle crossing points.