BLIND people are avoiding the Regent Circus crossing for fear of being run down by cars, a former charity chairman said.

The new “shared space” road layout was installed in 2014 as part of the redevelopment of the former Swindon College site.

A traffic light crossing was replaced with a raised traffic island and broad pedestrian crossing marked by a different road surface.

But former Swindon Guide Dogs Groups chairman Alan Fletcher said that the new crossing had dissuaded many blind people from visiting the new Regent Circus development - while support for blind people had "gone backwards" in the last ten years.

His comments came as new figures revealed that the number of Swindon people registered as blind or severely partially sighted jumped by a third since 2006.

According to the statistics, shared by government quango NHS Digital, 400 people were registered blind in Swindon last year – up from 300 a decade before.

Alan Fletcher, 69, said that he thought support for blind people had “gone backwards” since he lost his sight in 2005.

He warned that “shared spaces” on roads were a particular problem for blind and partially sighted people.

Alan said: “I would say the majority of visually impaired people just don’t go that way at all. They just don’t want the stress of trying to cross it.”

He argued that the council should “talk more” to people about the impact of redevelopment schemes: “I would want the council to talk more to people – not just people who are blind, but people with all disabilities.”

Proposed changes to the road layout of Wellington Street, near the bus station, should pay particular regard to the needs of those with visual impairments, he added.

Swindon Borough Council said that the Regent Circus scheme had undergone an extensive consultation.

A council spokesman said: “An independent audit of the Regent Circus crossing was carried out soon after it opened and was overseen by various stakeholders including Wiltshire Blind Association. The audit concluded that the crossing was safe but recommended the developer make some minor changes to improve it.

“The pavement at Regent Circus is clearly defined and, at the crossing points, there are kerb edges and tactile paving.

“The Wellington Street improvements do not feature a shared space scheme, but instead propose to replace the current pelican crossing layout with a zebra crossing. However, we would very much like to hear the views of Mr Fletcher and other people on the proposed scheme as part of the current consultation so we can take them into account when drawing up the final design.”

A spokesman added that the council continued to provide a rehabilitation service to those registered as blind. This service included help with independent living and mobility training if appropriate.