Abstract This paper explores to what extent a local authority can influence environmental quality within the streets of its area, so as to meet its corporate objectives of improving the environment and quality of life for all who live, work, visit and trade in the borough. The approach for the study undertaken by Hounslow was based on an internal policy review, which aimed to identify and draw together all the elements, players, and relationships within the street scene that could influence the visual quality of the public realm. The ‘street scene’ has been defined as being the spaces between buildings which are on public view, but it was also considered essential to assess the buildings and other vertical elements which ‘frames’ the streets and set the context for the main performers. From this a Street Scene Strategy was produced to promote the integrated management of all streets and to develop the concept of partnership working with the many other players involved in the street scene. This paper sets out the background to this work, the results to date, the aims of the pilot study and the wider issues and conclusions the study raises for local authorities.