The Government has issued further clarification on its moratorium on shared space schemes, in a move to assuage fears among planners and designers that the ban on level surfaces could have gone too far.
Transport minister Nusrat Ghani and housing and planning minister Kit Malthouse have written to council chief executives to give further detail on moves to limit the use of controversial shared space scheme, stating it applies to areas of high traffic and not housing developments.
Designers had raised concerns that the injunction, as worded, could affect housing development schemes among others.
The DfT called for a pause on the development of shared space schemes, ‘which incorporate a level surface while we review and update guidance’.
Now in a letter to local government, ministers stated: ‘While authorities need to ensure that all schemes are designed with the needs of different users in mind, and satisfy their obligations under the equalities legislation, 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).
‘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 and associated guidance.
‘Features often included in a shared space scheme, such as the minimal use of traffic signs and other traffic management related street furniture, removing traffic signals, removing/modifying formal and informal crossings, raised side road entry treatments, continuous footways, table junctions and shared use routes for pedestrians and cyclists are often integral parts of other traffic management schemes.
‘The use of these features in traffic management schemes is not included in the request to pause level surface shared space schemes. The availability of formal crossings is particularly important for visually impaired people. Local authorities should consider how this need can be met in all schemes, including shared space.’
It added the injunction ‘does not apply to development schemes that are currently at the planning application stage or beyond’.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced it intends to review national planning practice guidance to sit alongside the revised National Planning Policy Framework, which will be published in due course.
The Department for Transport, with the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland, will commission research on inclusive design which will also inform further advice on creating places that are accessible, inclusive and well-designed.