Panel voices concern over access in Lochyside homes
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.