Councils are being urged to remove unnecessary street furniture and signs in order to make urban streets more accessible and safer for motorists and pedestrians.
The Department of Transport is advising local policy makers to reduce the number of signs and other ‘street clutter’ such as railings, advertising hoardings and painted lines.
The government believes that traffic signs and railings are being installed by councils in the mistaken belief that they are legally required.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles and transport secretary Philip Hammond are concerned the character of the country’s urban spaces is being damaged.
Hammond said: "We all know that some signs are necessary to make our roads safe and help traffic flow freely. But unnecessary street furniture is a waste of taxpayers' money and leaves our streets looking more like scrap yards than public spaces.
"We have written to councils to remind them that it need not be this way – we don't need all this clutter confusing motorists, obstructing pedestrians and hindering those with disabilities who are trying to navigate our streets.
The government is also concerned that too many signs compromise safety as important warning signs have less of an impact when surrounded by other street furniture.
Tony Burton, the director of Civic Voice, claimed that after street clutter was removed from Kensington High Street accidents have been reduced by 47 per cent.Ministers want communities to inform local authorities of particularly bad examples of clutter.