A contentious town improvement project which met with a storm of local protest has been short-listed for a prestigious national award.
News that the £1.5 million Kinross High Street “shared space” development has caught the eyes of the judges of an awards scheme which honours Scotland’s “most innovative and successful” built developments was met with incredulity by some local people.
Among them was long time critic of the project, Ken Miles, who has written to the council calling it a “dangerous and ill-conceived scheme” and forwarded on 133 letters from local people who have backed his complaints.
“Represented amongst these (letters) are High Street users, business owners and staff, disabled and elderly including sheltered housing residents and also includes parents with concern for the safety of themselves and their children,” said Mr Miles.
“These testaments confirm that the Kinross High Street roadworks scheme has failed to deliver a safe environment for all users. Pedestrians in particular are being exposed to risk of injury on a daily basis.
“Common sense has been abandoned and the slavish and inappropriate application of the latest fad in town planning has been forced upon the Kinross community and elsewhere.
“Kinross is left with a deadly mix of traffic and pedestrians with uncertainty for all and a real danger to children, the elderly and the disabled, including the blind, being the most vulnerable groups
“The give/take for vehicles at the Salutation Hotel has become a free-for-all for drivers and Russian roulette for pedestrians who share the surface with and are exposed to traffic without the safety benefit of any kerbs.
“The fall-out from the protracted works of six months and the failure of the scheme has resulted in economic damage, more empty shops with more businesses closing and moving than before the start of the works.”
Mr Miles asked why the project should be considered for a Herald Best Townscape Regeneration Award which will be announced in Glasgow on Thursday, calling it “indulgent self-congratulation”.
He also said he understood that the council had accepted the scheme was unsafe as they were making a “U-turn” and planning to reinstate a controlled crossing.
A spokesman for Perth and Kinross Council defended the works, saying: “The layout was subject to detailed and extensive public consultation with the local community in Kinross before the scheme was constructed, and local residents were very supportive of the design that was ultimately taken forward.
“The scheme was implemented in a 20mph zone. Road safety has been monitored and kept under review since the shared space scheme became operational. We have not received any reports of accidents involving pedestrians having occurred in that time.
“However, following requests from the local community, it is intended that in the near future a report will come before councillors, covering the proposed provision of a controlled pedestrian crossing and other potential revisions to the scheme.
“For clarity, the project being shortlisted in a national property awards scheme was a decision of the awards judges, not the council.
“We do however welcome the recognition of the detailed work involved in developing this project, and the community’s contribution to it, intended to enhance the public realm in Kinross.”