A CHARITY has warned developers hoping to create ‘shared spaces’ in Ayr’s town centre to watch out for residents and visitors with disabilities.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) are urging planners to be aware of mistakes made in other town developments, which have become no-go zones for those with disabilities.

The warning comes after the announcement that Ayr will get a chunk of £27m pledged to various projects by the Scottish Government.

The plan for Accessible Ayr aims to ‘transform the accessibility of Ayr town centre for people on bike and foot as well as those with reduced mobility, through regenerating High Street Sandgate and River Street’.

RNIB want planners to consult those residents with mobility issues and avoid urban designs that have created “significant” problems elsewhere.

Among these are cycleways that separate pavements from bus-stops and crossings, and shared spaces where pavements are levelled and pedestrians and vehicles use the same surface.

Dr Catriona Burness, of RNIB Scotland, said: “While we welcome a greater emphasis on walking and cycling, we are concerned that certain new concepts in town planning might end up excluding some people altogether, and make walking outdoors more fraught and hazardous for those with a disability. We really hope this can be avoided in Ayr.

“Shared spaces aim to make drivers and pedestrians more aware and careful. However, it’s difficult to be more aware of what you can’t see.

“The placing of cycle-lanes between pavements and roadsides is another potential worry. Unless there are marked crossing points, this just creates an additional hurdle for blind or partially-sighted pedestrians. Not only can they not see oncoming cyclists, they can’t hear them either. Meanwhile, cyclists are likely to assume that any pedestrian will be able to see them approaching.

“Unless we rethink some aspects of town planning we could lock in flawed designs into our towns and cities for a generation locking out blind and partially sighted people.”