Government inquiry into shared spaces

The Completion of the Fishergate Central Gateway project

The Completion of the Fishergate Central Gateway project

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People from across Preston are invited to submit their views to a government inquiry into shared space schemes.

The women and equalities committee has launched an investigation into the accessibility of homes, buildings and public spaces.

Part of the “disability and the built environment” inquiry will look at shared space schemes, with the public being asked for their views on whether the projects cause barriers for disabled people.

It comes as sections of Preston’s shared space scheme have come under fire, particularly for congestion in Fishergate, blamed by many on the removal of traffic lights.

Martin Porter, principal traffic engineer for Lancashire County Council said: “The design for the Fishergate improvements was developed after months of discussions and consultation with representatives from various local charities and organisations, who represent people with disabilities and in particular those who are visually impaired or use a wheelchair or mobility scooter.

“These discussions helped us to finalise the design.

“For example, the height of the kerbs was raised to assist people with visual impairments who use canes.

“Tactile surfaces at crossing points were extended to help to identify them.

“Keeping street clutter to a minimum was introduced to make more space for people and especially assist those with a visual impairment.

“The number of crossing points was increased along Fishergate and benches were introduced as part of the improvements.

“We also met with representatives from the business community, shopping centre management, bus and taxi operators, rail companies and other organisations.

“Their comments and feedback were an important part of creating the final design, as part of this multi-million pound investment to improve the city centre.”

Committee chairman Maria Miller said there was a “great deal of scope for innovation” around construction and accessibility within the inquiry and she said questions included: “To what extent do shared space schemes in roads and highways cause barriers for disabled people and how can these be resolved?

She said: “We need to ensure that buildings and public spaces are as accessible and inclusive as possible, and that communities can fully engage with the process of decision making that shapes the accessibility of the built environment.”