Tactile Paving (Guildford - Chapel Street)
Region: South East
Local Authority: Guildford
Summary: There was no tactile paving in Chapel Street, a narrow street in the heart of the Guildford Town Centre Conservation Area which runs perpendicular to the historic High Street.
Tactile paving was introduced by the Department for Transport’s Accessibility and Equality Unit to ensure a standard approach to the mobility of blind and partially sighted people. Historic areas are more sensitive to the colour and types of paving used, so the standard red and buff coloured concrete blistered paviors can often be inappropriate for their surroundings, being in close proximity to buildings of special architectural and historical interest.
Many visually impaired people still have partial sight and can distinguish between contrasting shades, which helps them recognise where crossing points or hazards exist.
The design of the scheme concentrated on reducing the width of the junction at Castle Street end thus creating larger areas of paving for potential café use. It also incorporated the installation of a gate which is closed daily to coincide with the closure of the adjoining High Street, allowing pedestrian priority during the busiest time of the trading day.
Traditional materials to match those already present were essential elements of the scheme but additional features were essential including dropped kerbs at the crossing point. The use of brass studs within York stone paving was considered to be the most sensitive solution. The Guildford Access Group was consulted to ensure that these would be acceptable. There was some surprising discussion including the difficulties that some people in wheelchairs experience traversing the conventional concrete tactile paving, and some indifference to the need for coloured distinction between tactile and surrounding paving materials.
The Access Group approved the use of brass tactile paving and welcomed the design of the scheme overall.
Surrey County Council approved the use of brass studs but have since advised that they would no longer approve them since their maintenance contractor does not keep them in stock and they wish to minimise the range of materials used throughout the county.
The scheme has been installed for some 2-3 years now and there have been no complaints regarding the choice of materials, but compliments have been received about the overall effect of the enhancement.
Keywords: SOCIAL ACCESS AND INCLUSION