Highways England designated funds

A series of ring fenced funds designated to Highways England to address a range of issues beyond the traditional focus of road investment.

The Department for Transport has allocated £900 million of funds to Highways England over the 6 year spending period covering 2015 to 2021.

These funds allow for actions beyond business as usual. They:

  • help Highways England to invest in retrofitting measures to improve the existing road network
  • maximise opportunities to deliver additional improvements as part of new road schemes

There are 5 designated funds:

  • environment – £300 million
  • cycling, safety and integration (CSI) - £250 million
  • air quality – £100 million
  • innovation – £150 million
  • growth and housing – £100 million

Our plans for these funds are in the Highways England Delivery Plan 2015-2020.


Our aim is a strategic road network that works more harmoniously with its surroundings to deliver an improved environment.

Improving the environment is an important outcome for us, as identified in our Strategic Business Plan (SBP) and the Road Investment Strategy (RIS) . To achieve these objectives we will operate and improve the road network in a way that protects and supports people and the things we value for our quality of life, both now and for future generations.

This will encompass:

  • protecting human and environmental health with clean air and water
  • preserving an attractive landscape with a protected countryside and clean and visually appealing towns and cities
  • thriving wildlife with increasing biodiversity
  • reduced levels of noise and light near homes and in the wider countryside
  • protection of our historic environment including heritage assets and their setting

The Road Investment Strategy (RIS) identifies areas where we can deliver environmental improvements to the Highways England road network.

These are focused on the following topic areas:

  • noise
  • water
  • carbon
  • landscape
  • biodiversity
  • cultural heritage

Cycling, safety and integration


Our Delivery Plan sets out a number of high level objectives that seek to:

  • improve cycling facilities on or near our road network
  • reduce the impact of our roads as a barrier to cycling.

This includes developing annual programmes of work through designated funds to improve cycling facilities. For example:

  • new cycle crossings
  • cycle lanes
  • improved signage and safety schemes
  • ensuring that wider road network investments incorporate cycling facilities

These cycling facilities will provide integrated, high quality routes that are safe, direct, connected, comfortable and attractive, linking with wider cycle networks where appropriate.

We will deliver no fewer than 200 cycling facilities and crossing points on or around our road network by 2021. We will deliver at least 150 of these by the end of Road Period 1.


We believe no-one should be harmed when travelling or working on our roads.

Our Delivery Plan sets out our plans to achieve this for Road Period 1. Our approach is to continuously improve safety. We will invest in our road network to prevent incidents from occurring and to reduce the severity of those which do occur.

This will build on the traditional engineering, enforcement and education initiatives. We will develop a “safe systems approach” and strategy, focused on:

  • safer vehicles
  • safer roads
  • safer people

Highways England will use the safety designated fund to carry out minor improvement schemes. We will focus on single carriageway routes with higher accident rates or generally a 2 star rating.

We will also develop a wider package of measures which support the “safe systems approach”. This includes appointing road safety coordinators and working on driver behaviour and road worker safety.


Our road network should be accessible and integrated. It should give people the freedom to choose their mode of transport and enable safe movement across and alongside the road network. This is an important outcome for us, as identified in our Strategic Business Plan, Road Investment Strategy and our Delivery Plan.

The government has reiterated its commitment to promote greater transport choice by encouraging walking and cycling and generally more active lifestyles.

We will address barriers that prevent the safe movement of vulnerable users across and alongside our road network and work to avoid future barriers.

Air Quality

Air pollution, particularly caused by nitrogen dioxide (NO2), is a significant strategic risk to the delivery of infrastructure projects set out within the Road Investment Strategy (RIS). The European Union has put in place stringent limits, which cannot be exceeded.

Highways England is committed to improving air quality alongside the roads we manage. This will help mitigate this risk to scheme delivery. We will use the £100 million designated fund to enable us to understand the challenges facing us and develop ways to mitigate NO2 on and near our roads.


The Road Investment Strategy (RIS) sets out designated funding to support innovation. The total funding available is set at £150 million, with a £30 million allocation for 2020 to 2021.

Highways England will use designated funding to “actively encourage more innovation and use of technology to support improving average delay, safety on roads and environmental considerations.”

Highways England has different themes of innovation including safety, data and information, improving our infrastructure, new and emerging technology and support to sustainable operations.

View the Highways England Innovation, Technology and Research Strategy.

Growth and Housing

The Road Investment Strategy (RIS) allocated a £100 million Growth and Housing Fund to Highways England. This fund enables us to play our part in enabling the delivery of employment and housing sites across the country.

The fund allows us and our partners to get moving with schemes that will unlock new jobs and homes.

Our funding will supplement – not substitute – developer contributions and other existing sources, such as the Local Growth Fund. The Growth and Housing Fund is only applicable to schemes on or near and the Highways England network that:

  • unlock housing development or key economic growth projects
  • are needed to mitigate the impact of the new development(s) on the Highways England road network
  • are funded – at least in part – by developer contributions

As with the other designated funds, Highways England is working closely with local planning and highway authorities, the Homes and Communities Agency, Local Enterprise Partnerships and other local partners to identify, develop and deliver eligible schemes.

Learn more about the Growth and Housing Fund.

Published 14 June 2017