Dis­abled ac­cess in Mar­ket Place queried

The Wokingham Paper - - NEWS -

THE COUN­CIL did con­sult with a range of dis­abil­ity or­gan­i­sa­tions as it planned the new Mar­ket Place.

Cllr Philip Mirfin, the ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber for re­gen­er­a­tion, was an­swer­ing a ques­tion on the lay­out from res­i­dent Sarah Kerr.

She asked: “How were the pub­lic con­sulted about the new lay­out of Mar­ket Place in­clud­ing the type and colour of stone, the dis­abled park­ing and load­ing lay­out, the lack of proper kerbs, the rather ex­pen­sive look­ing golden studs and, in par­tic­u­larly, the use of the same colour pav­ing stone for the pedes­trian cross­ings?”

Cllr Mirfin replied: “There has been sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion and en­gage­ment that has led to the new Mar­ket Place de­sign dat­ing back more than 10 years.

“An ini­tial work­shop in

April 2015 was fol­lowed by three more in No­vem­ber 2017. Two of the work­shops were specif­i­cally for in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions rep­re­sent­ing those with var­i­ous forms of dis­abil­ity in­clud­ing Guide

Dogs for the Blind, CLASP, Wok­ing­ham Health­watch and the Alzheimer’s So­ci­ety. The in­put was cru­cial.

In re­sponse, Ms Kerr quoted the Depart­ment for Trans­port’s guid­ance for tac­tile pav­ing sur­faces, not­ing that it says there should be “con­trasts in colour and tone” and “older vis­ually im­paired peo­ple and peo­ple who have lost their sight through cer­tain med­i­cal con­di­tions may well have re­duced sen­si­tiv­ity in their feet.”

She ar­gued that the blis­ter studs are “barely de­tectable for the av­er­age per­son through the soles of their shoes” and that they “do not con­trast in colour much from the sur­round­ing area”.

THE NAMES of the new busi­nesses be­ing an­nounced for Peach Place will be re­leased over the next few weeks.

That was the prom­ise of the ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber for re­gen­er­a­tion, Cllr Philip Mirfin.

In his up­date to the coun­cil cham­ber he said: “I’m con­fi­dent [res­i­dents] will be pleased with what they hear. We have al­ways been clear that we want a strong lo­cal in­de­pen­dent of­fer along with some great qual­ity na­tional names. This is ex­actly what we have achieved.

“No one will deny that the face of the high street is chang­ing but Wok­ing­ham con­tin­ues to re­main strong and to buck the na­tional trends.”

He also ad­dressed Mar­ket Place, say­ing that work was now “com­plete”.

Cllr Mirfin did not make any men­tion the cost of the project, or if there was any over­spend given that the works were al­most seven months be­hind sched­ule. The Wok­ing­ham Pa­per will con­tinue to push Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough Coun­cil for this in­for­ma­tion.

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