Preston streets set to be improved for visually impaired people

Posted on - 6th October, 2020 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Politics, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Roads, Transport
Bus shelter in Church Street
Preston bus shelters were updated in 2018 to make them more visible after a partially sighted man injured his leg on a Church Street shelter

A new charter to improve access to Preston’s streets for visually impaired people is being trialled in the city.


The Lancashire Street Charter for Preston City was approved by Lancashire County Council cabinet at its meeting on Thursday (1 October). 

The document sets out guidelines to ensure it is easier for visually impaired people to get around. Measures include: 

  • Consulting blind, partially-sighted and disabled groups on major new public realm and highways developments, to ensure they meet the needs of visually impaired people
  • Putting additional measures in place to ensure potential obstacles such as A-Board pavement signage, café and street furniture, litter bins and wheelie bins at commercial premises do not present a hazard
  • Ensuring that crossings are correctly installed, monitored and maintained, in line with national standards for rotating cones, audible crossings and tactile paving
  • Setting out how overgrown vegetation, parking, and temporary obstructions such as road works, parking and taxis can be better managed to improve accessibility

Since being implemented in 2014, Preston city centre’s shared space has come under fire from visually impaired people.

Charity Galloway’s Society for the Blind described it as ‘fundamentally flawed’, as it relies on courtesy crossings where drivers and pedestrians need to have eye contact.

Stuart Clayton, far left, and Galloways campaigned against the Fishergate shared space
Galloways campaigned against the Fishergate shared space

The Visual Impairment Forum for the Lancashire Area asked the county council to consider producing the guidelines.

VI Forum member Terri Balon, who is RNIB Regional Campaigner for the North West, said the charter is a welcome commitment.

“A Street Charter needs to be flexible enough to take into account the local geography, characteristics and features of the area, while at the same time being shaped by the knowledge of people who rely upon kerbs, tactile paving and crossings.

“Lancashire council’s proposal to use the Preston Street charter as a trial to further roll out across the county is a welcome commitment.

“I look forward to working as a member of the VI Forum for the Lancashire area in the future. The forum is an excellent example of how a volunteer-led group that also comprises of organisations’ representatives can make a positive difference.”

Read more: UCLan’s Adelphi Square will have to include ‘controlled crossings’ 

Stuart Clayton, CEO of sight loss charity Galloway’s, said he is pleased to see the move towards ensuring the city’s streets are accessible for everyone. 

He said: “We welcome the introduction of a Street Charter and commend the work of the Lancashire VI forum for working alongside Lancashire County Council. This is a really positive step for blind and partially sighted people, and for the city as a whole.

“Mobility is challenging enough if you have limited vision, which is why this is an important document that we hope will improve the accessibility of all our streets for blind and partially sighted people.

“We understand that resources are limited right now, so we are really grateful the needs of people with limited sight are being considered.

“We hope that this new Street Charter will make real changes to ensure our streets are accessible for all.”

County Councillor Keith Iddon, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “People with disabilities face barriers getting around the towns and cities of Lancashire. Even in familiar places, getting from one place to another can be a bit like navigating an obstacle course. 

“We want to change this and we’re working with local people, disability groups, district councils and the Lancashire Visually Impaired Forum to take action. 

“We want our towns and cities to feel safe and secure, places where people truly find it easy to live, work and visit. 

“The Lancashire Street Charter is a key part of this and we’ve worked closely with people with disabilities to produce it.” 

The charter was developed in partnership with Preston City Council.

Councillor Robert Boswell, Preston City Council’s cabinet member for environment and communities, said: “It’s great to see this happening in Preston, ensuring the city centre is accessible to all.

“As the street charter is a trial we will continue our dialogue with the county council regarding implementation and listen to feedback from all parties.”

Read more: Preston city centre bus shelters are being updated to make them more visible

If the charter is successful, it will be introduced to other areas of the county. 

For more information, visit the Lancashire County Council website.

Read moreSee the latest Preston news and headlines

What do think of the new charter? Have you had difficulty navigating Preston’s streets? Let us know in the comments.

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