Shared space safety warning as blind NI woman wins kerb height case

 

A blind woman has won a High Court ruling that a council breached its legal duty to take the needs of disabled people into account when it reduced kerb heights as part of a city centre redesign.

Joanna Toner brought a judicial review over Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council’s decision to lower kerbs to 30mm as part of a multi-million pound urban realm regeneration initiative in Lisburn.

”Local
Joanna Toner

According to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Justice Maguire ruled that the council did not meet its duty to measure the impact of the scheme on disabled people, particular blind people.

He found that an equality impact assessment was not carried out, as required under section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

The judge ordered the council to reconsider the scheme, but acknowledged that it may reach the same conclusion.

Ms Toner said: ‘I'm delighted we've gotten this decision. The council will now have to start the process again and, this time, take into consideration the needs of all disabled people. This has been a long battle and I'd like to thank the many people and organisations who have supported me including RNIB NI and Guide Dogs NI.’

Guide Dogs NI and RNIB NI urged local councils to champion inclusive design and make town and city centres accessible to all.

The charities said accessibility of public realm schemes across the UK is an issue that increasingly affects blind and partially-sighted people. They said shared surface streets are a significant safety concern for people who rely upon the presence of the kerb to know they are on the pavement and not in the road.

A spokesperson for the local authority said: ‘The council will now carefully consider the detail of the decision and has no further comment to make at this time.’

 

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