In its new report Living with risk: promoting better public space design CABE said 'over-sensitivity to risk, arising from a misplaced perception of a rampant compensation culture and restrictive interpretations of Health and Safety regulations' was leading to the dumbing-down of design.
Sarah Gaventa, director of CABE Spaces, said intelligent and creative designs often faced tougher planning battles than over-cautious designs, which were less less likely to be challenged.
She added that even 'unlikely' organisation such as the HSE and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents had backed the call to challenge decisions that stifled creativity.
Gaventa said: 'High Street Kensington has been pared down with the removal of railings and bollards - and people are not falling over and they can still cross the road.
'Let's be proportionate about this, don't design for the worst-case scenario, design for normal behaviour,' added Gaventa.