COUNCILLORS have expressed safety fears over a controversial ‘shared space’ area of Barton Farm.

Under current plans, at the heart of the 2,000-home development would be a junction without traffic lights, where pedestrians are left to negotiate crossings themselves.

County Cllr Jackie Porter said her primary concern is schoolchildren.

“We want pedestrians to take precedence, otherwise it won’t be shared space, and at the moment I have not seen anything to suggest that will be the case.

“Children using that area are a great concern because there will be times when a lot of them are trying to get to school and there will need to be adult intervention.

“The county council is reviewing all of its crossing patrols so there’s no certainty that there will be any such provision.”

Cllr Jane Rutter said: “I hope it works, but it requires drivers to be rather more careful than most of them seem to be at the moment.

“Drivers are not used to these sorts of junctions and that could be a recipe for disaster,” she said.

But shared space is nothing new in many parts of Europe.

Mike Emett, a director at developer Cala, said: “I absolutely disagree with people who say shared space is of itself a danger.

“We understand that what is right in Switzerland is not necessarily right in the UK, but I think we could have this conversation in a year’s time and Barton Farm could be held up as an innovative and exemplar way of resolving traffic conflict.”

It is understood the county’s highways officers and the city’s council officers also favour the plans.

Martin Cassini, a campaigner on traffic management, said Winchester should look to Poynton near Manchester, and Portishead near Bristol, for examples of shared space already working well.

“We have grown up with the rules of the road programmed into us about respecting cars. But the motorist should beware the child, rather than the other way around,” he said.

“Suddenly, when there are no traffic lights to micromanage our every move, then when we approach a junction we’re not zooming through to make it through while the lights are on green. We’re approaching carefully because we do not want to hit anyone.

“It’s about designing a road which doesn’t make us blindly obey traffic engineering regulations. That’s a fatal flaw in the current system.”

Cllr Porter also expressed concern for the elderly and the disabled.

“It’s something our design team will consider. The shared space will go through the centre and that would be covered in phase two. As and when we do, we will have to take account of all sectors of society.”