Panel voices con­cern over ac­cess in Lochy­side homes

The Oban Times - - NEWS - EL­LIE FORBES eforbes@oban­

LOCHABER Dis­abil­ity Ac­cess Panel has voiced ‘ma­jor concerns’ that homes planned for the site of the former Lochy­side Pri­mary School will not be ac­ces­si­ble for wheel­chair users.

While some of the 60 homes are wheel­chair friendly and there are ground floor flats, con­cern re­mains about their ac­ces­si­bil­ity for people with dis­abil­i­ties.

The ac­cess panel has for­mally ob­jected to the ap­pli­ca­tion and has em­pha­sised its dis­ap­point­ment that no rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the agents, Bracewell Stir­ling, have come to meet with mem­bers of the panel.

The plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion is still un­der con­sid­er­a­tion and is due to be dis­cussed at the next High­land Coun­cil south plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions com­mit­tee.

Tony Dob­son, a mem­ber of the ac­cess panel, told the Lochaber

Times: ‘We have ma­jor concerns about this de­vel­op­ment. We have a plan­ning pro­to­call with the High­land Coun­cil which means we should re­ceive pre-plan­ning ad­vice on ma­jor de­vel­op­ments, but the first we heard about this one was when we re­ceived the coun­cil’s weekly plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion sub­mis­sion list.

‘The panel, and the High­land Coun­cil’s plan­ning of­fi­cers, have asked to meet with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the ap­pli­cants but no meet­ing has been forth­com­ing. We have a close re­la­tion­ship with the plan­ning of­fi­cers, but all they can do is ask for a rep­re­sen­ta­tive to meet with us.’

Mr Dob­son added: ‘Ac­cord­ing to the plan­ning draw­ing, there would be no way a wheel­chair could nav­i­gate the cor­ri­dors of the homes and wheel­chairs are get­ting big­ger as tech­nol­ogy pro­gresses. We should be build­ing houses that are fit for pur­pose in 30 years.’

In its ob­jec­tion to the coun­cil, the panel stated: ‘In the de­sign state­ment regarding ac­cess and move­ment within the site there are no dimensions show­ing the width of pave­ments or the place­ment of drop kerbs.

‘The ac­ces­si­ble homes, it is to be pre­sumed, will be hab­it­able for decades, yet there ap­pears to lit­tle thought given to the in­crease in wheel­chair sizes over the last few years.

‘The panel is dis­ap­pointed that there ap­pears to have been lit­tle con­sid­er­a­tion given to the long term fu­ture.

‘Panel mem­bers who are wheel­chair users say they would not be able to ne­go­ti­ate the cor­ri­dor widths shown in the draw­ings.’

Mr Dob­son said: ‘ We re­ally need to sit down with the ar­chi­tects and look at what’s go­ing on. They should have been speak­ing to us long be­fore now. We want to sup­port more houses in the area, and we are not ob­ject­ing for ob­ject­ing sake, but we need a meet­ing with the ap­pli­cants to dis­cuss and re­solve the nu­mer­ous concerns regarding the ac­ces­si­bil­ity as­pects of the pro­posal.’

The mat­ter was dis­cussed at the panel elec­tion hus­tings last Wed­nes­day (April 19) where can­di­dates for the up­com­ing coun­cil elec­tion gath­ered to an­swer ques­tions and ad­dress concerns from el­derly and dis­abled people and their carers.

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