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Shared Spaces: Visual Impairment

Department for Transport written question – answered on 5th September 2019.

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Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Independent, Dudley North

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that town designs that remove navigation tools used by blind and partially-sighted people to navigate, including kerbs and controlled crossings are not rolled out during the Government's halt on dangerous shared-space schemes.

Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Independent, Dudley North

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with organisations representing blind and partially-sighted people on the safety of shared space schemes for those people.

Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Independent, Dudley North

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that the halt to shared space schemes remains in force until new designs are considered to be safe by blind and partially-sighted people.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Government Whip

The focus of the pause is on level-surface schemes in areas with relatively large amounts of pedestrian and vehicular movement, such as high streets and town centres (outside of pedestrian zones). Local authorities are responsible for the design of their streets. It is for them to ensure any pedestrian environment scheme, including a shared space, is inclusive and meets the requirements of the Equality Act 2010.

If local authorities had already let contracts to build a scheme, or it was already under construction, because any changes to the design may be costly or impractical, to avoid additional financial burdens, the pause only applies to schemes that were at the design stage, where changes could be more easily made at the time that the pause was announced.

Ministers meet regularly with groups representing disabled people, including those representing blind and partially sighted people, to discuss a wide range of inclusive and accessible transport issues. Officials in my Department also work closely with a wide range of stakeholders on many issues including shared space schemes, the opportunities they offer and the challenges they pose.

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