Preston’s controversial Fishergate roadworks project comes to a close from Tuesday morning.Advertisement
Lancashire County Council is promising a parking crackdown as the new shared space on the main shopping street has been subject to some incredible flaunting of parking regulations.
Costing £3.4 million the new road layout on Fishergate means neither pedestrians or cars have right of way, leading to confused shoppers and motorists alike.
County council highways chiefs maintain the system makes the area safer and offers a more attractive shopping environment.
Blind user groups have criticised the shared space layout saying it makes it difficult for them to be aware of oncoming traffic – as the kerbs do not drop as they did previously.
County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “This project represents the most significant investment in Preston’s city centre in a generation and it has completely transformed Fishergate. The result is a much more attractive environment, which is already attracting new business to the city.
“I’m proud to see the new Sainsbury’s here and look forward to welcoming Tesco in due course. I’m confident that they will be the first of many businesses to choose to come to Preston’s city centre and I’m sure the project will bring a boost to existing companies.
“I’d like to thank people for their patience while works were completed. We always knew that a degree of disruption was unavoidable but I am glad that we were able to keep Fishergate open throughout a complex building project. We will b! e able to bring that experience to bear as we get started next year on the second, £6m phase which will extend the improvements through to the bus station.
“Having created this attractive, open environment, I’d like to reassure people that we will not tolerate thoughtless people spoiling it by parking on the pavements. We have created allocated bays for loading and unloading for Fishergate’s businesses and anyone not using them for that purpose or parking outside one of these bays will be liable to a £70 fixed penalty charge.”
Work is still ongoing on the Preston Railway Station forecourt, which is due to be completed at the end of October.
Councillor John Swindells, deputy leader of Preston City Council, said: “The new tree-lined Fishergate, with its wide pavements and contemporary, clutter-free spaces is a huge improvement. It is a much more attractive place to spend time as a pedestrian and I’m sure that it will be a real boost for the commercial heart of Preston.
“Preston plays a key role in Lancashire’s economy so new jobs and investment have a positive impact on the rest of the county. Transforming Fishergate is the first phase of a longer term strategy that we’re working on with Lancashire County Council to develop the city centre and surrounding area.”
The shared space scheme has left many confused, but experts claim it will make the road safer in the long run.
Ben Hamilton-Baillie, international expert on shared space schemes and a consultant on the Fishergate scheme, said: “Like all towns and cities, Preston needs renewal and regeneration to take advantage of new business opportunities and the growth of the university. To attract people and money, the public realm has to be attractive. Over the years the accumulated clutter of signs, signals and markings have not been kind to Preston’s streetscapes. The recently completed renewal of Fishergate and the surroundings of the railway station represent a bold and determined first step by Lancashire County Council and its partners to put this right.
“The new street designs provide a fresh and distinctive palette for the City, to create low-speed, attractive streets and spaces that can accommodate traffic whilst attracting more pedestrian and cycle activity. The scheme introduces a new era for Preston, one based on shared space and civility.”
In July it was announced the Fishergate shared space layout would be extended up to the Bus Station, as additional funding had been secured.
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