Highways understands that the CIHT review of shared space will highlight a need for an increased awareness of the importance of controlled crossings and kerbs when it comes to the controversial road design.
The report could also provide a new definition of shared space and is likely to call for much more research into the concept, which has in many cases seen the removal of much standard road infrastructure. Sources close to the process told Highways that the report could be published imminently and would answer some of the most pressing concerns of campaigners around the removal of crossings and kerbs, which help blind and partially sighted people navigate streetscapes.
The review has been an arduous process, and has suffered a series of delays and controversies but is now in draft stage and due to be published later this year according to the CIHT.
The Department for Transport (DfT) was forced to make an embarrassing U-turn after then transport minister Lord Ahmed told peers in 2015 that the CIHT would produce supplementary guidance to support the local transport note 1/11 on shared space.
However CIHT officials subsequently told the Women and Equalities Select Committee that it could only produce a review, which would not be sufficient to address the concerns raised by anti-shared space campaigners like blind peer Lord Holmes. The process has since been subject to accusations that it failed to include enough input from blind groups. Lord Holmes was central to the proceedings, while representatives of other groups such as the National Federation of the Blind UK felt shut out as they told CIHT they could not support shared space at all.
Lord Holmes told Highways: ‘I was happy to contribute to the work the CIHT have undertaken on this vexed issue of shared space and am hopeful that the report and its recommendations, if followed, will contribute to making our streets into the safe, inclusive environments we need them to be.’
A CIHT spokeswoman said: ‘CIHT’s Shared Streets review is currently in draft stage.
‘The review steering group involved the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) and Lord Holmes of Richmond to give the perspective from a broad range of viewpoints. The review is due to be published later this year.’
A key architect of shared space, Ben Hamilton-Baillie has said the principle would be better framed along the lines of a ‘forgiving road space’ where increased driver awareness prompted by novel design would result in slower speeds and an environment that would actually benefit disabled people, including the blind.
The Women and Equalities Committee’s report Building for Equality: Disability and the Built Environment in April this year said: ‘We recommend that the Government require local authorities to call a halt to the use of shared space schemes, pending clear national guidance that explicitly addresses the needs of disabled people.
‘This should, in particular, instruct local authorities that controlled crossings and regular height kerbs are to be retained and that they should undertake an urgent review of existing schemes, working with disabled people in their area to identify the changes that are necessary and practicable.’
The committee has now followed this up with a letter to the DfT complaining that its advice had not been followed within the draft Accessibility Action Plan published in August for consultation.
‘We would like to hear how the Department plans to proceed given this difference of opinion about what the CIHT guidance is likely to deliver, and particularly whether it will meet the need identified by our inquiry for clear national guidance developed in partnership with disabled people,’ the committee said.
A DfT spokesperson said: ‘We are glad the committee supports the draft Accessibility Action Plan and recognises the positive impact it will have on the travel experience for people with disabilities.
‘The draft plan is the next step in a much needed dialogue with disabled people, carers, transport providers and local authorities to removing barriers for millions of disabled people to be able to travel independently and confidently. And we welcome all contributions to the consultation from individuals and organisations that want to improve the travel experience for disabled people.’