Shared space ‘the way forward’ for other towns
SHARED space designer Ben Hamilton-Baillie has said the scheme has “confounded its critics” and that Edinburgh, Oxford and Blackpool are planning to follow suit.
Figures released on the first anniversary of the scheme’s introduction on Ashford’s old ring road show there had been no injuries to pedestrians or drivers in its first 12 months.
Urban design expert Mr Hamilton-Baillie said: “While Ashford is one of the first in the UK to adopt the shared space approach to urban street planning, it is a popular sight on the continent and the clear evidence there is that it is hugely successful in making streets safer for all road users. It is the way forward.”
Ashford’s Joint Transportation Board heard drivers have slashed their speeds from travelling at 30mph a year ago to an average of just 22mph now.
But the scheme has not been without its problems. Breaking the shared space’s “clutter-free” mantra, more signs had to be introduced to stop illegal parking.
Cleaning the £50,000 granite cost more than £43,000 a year while conventional road cleaning products failed to clear away stains.
The £100,000 flume running along the paving in Bank Street from the town centre to Elwick Road also began to leak. It was temporarily patched up.
Judith Armitt, managing director of Ashford’s Future, was tasked with handling the company’s £2.5 billion budget to improve Ashford. She said the shared space scheme had exceeded all expectations. She said: “It has made our town centre attractive and accessible, it’s playing a vital role in unlocking the develop- ment potential of Ashford, and above all it has improved road safety.”
At least a dozen towns and cities across the UK are consider- ing redesigning their streets to look like Ashford’s £15.6 million scheme, including Ipswich, Macclesfield, Torquay, Staines, Hereford and Colchester.
Shared space guru Ben Hamilton-Baillie on a visit to Ashford’s Bank Street