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Tuesday22 July 2014

Court setback for Guide Dogs on Exhibition Road shared space scheme

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A leading charity’s attempt to derail Dixon Jones’ revolutionary £25 million redesign of London’s Exhibition Road has suffered a major setback.

Lord Carlile of Berriew QC has refused to grant Guide Dogs permission to proceed with its judicial review against the scheme, which involves removing traditional kerbs and expecting pedestrians and motorists to share the same space.

Kensington & Chelsea council claim the change will force drivers to slow down, making the road safer, but the charity said the lack of a kerb could endanger the lives of the visually impaired.

Jeremy Dixon said he remained committed to the concept of shared surfaces.

“We are certainly confident that what we are dong has been tested and is a good solution. This is a sensible thing to do for the widest possible benefit.”

Council leader Merrick Cockell said he hoped the charity would now agree to work together with the council and the designers to enhance the safety aspects of the scheme.

In an open letter to the charity he wrote: “With over one hundred accidents in the area over the past three years, it is clear that the current street design is not safe, and I feel it is incumbent on both our organisations to use our limited resources to improve the design for all users, rather than pursue further court cases.”

However a spokesman for the charity pledged to continue its legal challenge.

"Our arguments still stand,” he said. “Blind and partially sighted people need consistency in the design of streets. If they can’t tell where the road begins and the pavement ends, how can they feel safe?

“The judge has made no ruling on our concerns; merely taken a technical point that we have brought the case to the court prematurely. We will be asking the court to re-consider our application for permission to claim judicial review at the earliest opportunity.”

Meanwhile, the first phase of the project is almost complete – including creating a new public space at South Kensington and alterations to the local road network.

Works to Exhibition Road itself are due to begin next month.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • It needs to be explained why it is "premature" for Guide Dogs to bring their legal challenge at this stage. With only a month before works begin, to the layman this would seem like a last minute application...? If the substantive arguments on both sides are not likely to change, now would seem like a pressing time to have them heard and decided upon by the court.

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