Comment: The Inclusive Transport Strategy and shared space

06/12/2018

Chris Berry (pictured), associate transport engineer at M-EC, gives his view on the future of inclusive transport and public realm. 

Since shared space schemes were first introduced, or at least in the format that is widely considered shared space now, they have courted controversy.

Lots of people see them as positive, if at times uncomfortable, public realm and pedestrian environment improvements. However, the issue of inclusive mobility – the responsibility placed on designers and local authorities to ensure streets meet the requirements of the Equalities Act 2010 - has been an ever present one.

As more and more of these schemes have arisen, the lack of clear, universal guidance has led to a wide variety of interpretations of best practice in design offices and mixed messages on the ground.

As a result, in July 2018 the Department for Transport (DfT) published its Inclusive Mobility Strategy and one of the key announcements within this was the recommendation that 'local authorities pause the development of shared space schemes which incorporate a level surface' while the current guidance was reviewed and updated.

Whilst this review is undertaken, the existing guidance Local Transport Note 1/11: Shared Space was temporarily withdrawn. While the introduction of new guidance is undoubtedly overdue, understandably the hearts of many a designer, planner and developer across the country skipped a beat at the announcement of a somewhat abrupt blanket 'pause' on all shared space schemes.

What this pause allows is a re-focussing on the key responsibility to ensure that, regardless of design, all schemes consider the inclusivity of the finished article.

All too often as Road Safety Auditors or when undertaking Walking, Cycling and Horse-Riding Assessments and Reviews, we see schemes that have attempted to embrace the aesthetics of shared space, or what the recent CIHT review of shared space would call 'pedestrian prioritised streets', while ignoring the requirement for inclusivity and the functionality required for all users.

Hopefully the new guidance will see an end to the confusing use of a variety of kerb upstands, construction materials and tactile paving that has created barriers, deterring some people from using their local high streets or direct routes to local amenities.

Sadly, it may be too optimistic to hope for any new guidance to be forthcoming any time soon. However, much to the relief of many developers, the DfT has issued some clarification of the initial announcement. The follow up statement of 28th September 2018 detailed that the pause 'does not apply to streets within new residential areas, or the redesign of existing residential streets with very low levels of traffic, such as appropriately designed mews and cul-de-sacs, which take into account the relevant aspects of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and associated guidance'.

This clarification was much needed and was warmly welcomed but it is a certainty that Planning Authorities will be taking a much closer look at the design elements of any shared areas, which can only enhance the accessibility of the designs under consideration. Recently we have seen complaints about a lack of pavement areas in residential streets forcing people into the street almost as soon as they leave their house.  

In the meantime, and on a more positive note while we await the new guidance, one of the actions arising from the new strategy was that the conclusions of a research project to 'review the existing DfT guidance on Tactile Paving and Inclusive Mobility' will be published shortly, with a 'view to expanding or updating them and exploring whether the two sets of documents should be combined'.

This means that designers and planners will soon have some additional and enhanced guidance to ensure that projects in the design and pre-planning phases can be more informed and have a greater chance to ensure that they are functional, attractive and most importantly inclusive.

 

Highways jobs

Definitive Map Manager

Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
This role is based within the Highways Service at Cambridgeshire County Council and provides an unusual and... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Bridge Park Operations Manager

Brent Council
£38,799 - £41,706 p.a. inc.
This is an exciting opportunity to play a key role in managing the operations and contributing towards the... Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Assistant Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£21,074 - £30,756
A great opportunity for someone looking to start or develop a career in Highways Engineering including the... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Head of Strategic Transport

Cheshire East Council
£64,000 - £75,000 + benefits
We’re committed to “working for a brighter future together” – and we expect you to be too! Cheshire
Recuriter: Cheshire East Council

Regeneration Manager

Mole Valley District Council
£52,895 - £57,143 FTE
This is a great career opportunity to specialise in town centre regeneration and repositioning. Dorking, Surrey
Recuriter: Mole Valley District Council

Technical Services Officer (Mechanical)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£36,876 - £38,813
This is an exciting and challenging time for Kirklees and we want to expand our team to manage and deliver construction... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Road and Footway Asset Engineer

Kent County Council
£28,925 per annum
An exciting opportunity has arisen to join the Road and Footway Asset Team as an Asset Engineer. Kent
Recuriter: Kent County Council

Head of Waste

Lincolnshire County Council
£65,651 - £70,725
As Head of Waste, you will be commercially focussed and forward-thinking. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Assistant Director

Reading Borough Council
Up to £92k
It’s the ideal time to take the lead on our modernisation agenda, and deliver growth in the trading of our front line services. Reading, Berkshire
Recuriter: Reading Borough Council

Assistant Director – Highways

Lincolnshire County Council
£82,264 - £107,878
Come and lead the future agenda for our highways services. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

County Highways Manager

Lincolnshire County Council
£55,503 - £60,578
Seeking a highly motivated leader and an excellent communicator, who has a proven ability to build relationships and trust, leading by example. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Local Highways Manager (East) - Lincolnshire County Council

Lincolnshire County Council
G12 £43,662 - £50,430
Seeking someone who combines excellent technical knowledge with a dedication to the customer. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Download your Highways App

Google App Apple App

Highways on Fridays

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Latest Issue

The ALARM survey 2019

Game over for flyovers?

Traffex, Parkex and Cold Comfort Scotland previews

View the latest issue

Latest Video