FORMER paralympian Lord Holmes of Richmond is calling to scrap shared space schemes like the controversial pedestrian crossing at Regent Circus.

It follows a survey commissioned by the blind Lord Holmes where 62 per cent of the 600 people interviewed said their experience of such schemes was poor and such schemes are dangerous - particularly for the partially sighted.

Alan Fletcher, chairman of Swindon Guide Dogs for the Blind, said: "I agree with Lord Holmes I think it is dangerous.

"The problem is you are still relying on somebody to stop when they don't have to stop, and at Regent Circus it's not one but two lanes you have to cross and just because one car stops doesn't mean the other one will, and it becomes even more difficult if you are blind or partially sighted.

"A couple of years ago Guide Dogs did a survey to find out what people thought about these shard spaces and over 50 per cent of people said if they knew of a shard space crossing they wouldn't use it. They would rather go home again.

"The other problem is these schemes are all over the country, but no two designs are the same."

But while Lord Holmes said he hoped the study would change attitudes to the "dangerous" crossings, there are suggestions the confusion experienced by users at the crossings actually make them safer to use.

Gary Sumner, whose office overlooks the crossing at Regent Circus, said: "While I have sympathies with people who have disabilities which make using the crossing difficult, my office overlooks the crossing and it does appear to be working.

"Even if they used traffic lights instead, there are some traffic lights where you press a button at waist height, but they don't make any noise so you wouldn't know whether you had to cross anyway.

"It seems to have re-introduced courtesy between pedestrians and drivers, they catch each others eye and by and large the drivers stop to let pedestrians cross, and pedestrians wave or nod or smile to say ‘thank you'."

In the Accidents by Design: The Holmes Report on “shared space” in the United Kingdom, published yesterday(july3) , recommendations include an immediate moratorium on shared space schemes, an urgent need for accessibility audits, and the update of Department for Transport guidance to local authorities.

Lord Holmes said: "Town centres are being turned into dangerous third-world traffic free-for-alls. Shared space is not a safe place, overzealous councils are risking public safety for aesthetics and the result is confusion, chaos, unnecessary cost and catastrophe.

"The idea is that pedestrians will make eye contact with drivers and that will lead to greater safety.

"But the visually impaired cannot do that and local authorities are in breach of their duty as service providers under the Equality Act to make reasonable adjustments to the shared space."

Despite numerous criticisms against the crossing at Regent Circus since it first opened, an independent audit last November deemed it safe.

Conducted by two auditors from consultants TMS, along with representatives from Wiltshire Police, Swindon Council and Wiltshire Blind Association, said the crossing was safe but added a number of changes could be made to improve it.

Footfall around the complex has steadily increased since Morrisons opened last year, followed earlier this year by a cinema and numerous restaurants.