Following the letter I recently distributed to members (below) I am delighted to announce that all my hard work on behalf of the many disabled people in the borough has resulted in a firm commitment to include a ‘changing places’ facility in The Galleries development in Aldershot. I would like to thank all those who have made this possible.
The inclusion of such facilities in town centre regeneration schemes became law on 1st January, it is particularly pleasing that it is to be delivered at such an early stage. It also augurs well for early inclusion in the Civic Quarter regeneration in Farnborough, perhaps in the new leisure centre currently under consideration.
Aldershot’s changing rooms facilities will transform the lives of the many disabled people in and around Aldershot, and their carers, who will be able to plan visits with peace of mind. These facilities will offer both convenience and dignity, and I look forward to seeing them for myself in the not too distant future.
My letter to Members
Good morning all. I trust you are keeping well.
As you may be aware, Rushmoor Borough Council recently agreed a £300m regeneration contract for The Galleries, Aldershot: https://publicaccess.rushmoor.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=QDGSICNMHO100&activeTab=summary.
Whilst this is fantastic news for the residents of Aldershot and for the wider community who live and work in the area, I have serious concerns regarding the lack of affordable and social housing, despite the recognised shortage for local families on low income.
I also have serious concerns that the Council has failed to include the installation of ‘changing places’ amenities that meet the needs of individuals with complex, life-long disabilities: http://www.changing-places.org. As Chairman of TFS, I have been working closely behind the scenes in recent months with various government departments, including MPs, in an effort to get such facilities included in Rushmoor’s regeneration plans. Having a physical disability myself, I am disappointed that RBC seems to be allowing the developers of The Galleries, Shaviram, to dictate what will be built and at what cost.
Although negotiations between Shaviram and RBC are ongoing, I am concerned that RBC will fail to secure a changing places facility, to meet the needs of individuals with both physical and complex learning disabilities.
Early last week I wrote several emails to Conservative councillors and RBC officers, getting only one reply from Tim Mills, Head of Planning and Strategic Housing. Please see below Tim’s message from RBC explaining that the disabled toilet facilities in question will not be included in phase one despite a Government ruling that states, by law, all town centre regeneration projects must include changing places facilities from January 1st 2021.
These facilities will enable disabled individuals and their carers to plan days out with the knowledge and ability to access a toilet facility that meets their needs with dignity. In the meantime I will continue to monitor the situation closely.
As a civic society, I believe it’s our duty to ensure that everyone has a voice, including family members and carers who care for someone living with a life-long disability.
I would welcome your views on both these important issues.
Response from Tim Mills
From: “Tim Mills” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thanks for your queries. The Council is very conscious of the need for suitable toilets and changing place facilities for people with disabilities and other needs e.g. parents with babies etc. It is proposed to be specifically identified in the Interim Aldershot Town Centre Strategy which the Council is developing as it moves forward to the next stages of regeneration.
The application for the Galleries does not as you say include any proposal for toilets and changing facilities at present. However the Council is negotiating with Shaviram other agreements. As part of this it is exploring the provision of such facilities. Unfortunately until these negotiations are concluded, any decision required by the Council made and we have a definitive programme from Shaviram for the for the construction of the development I would be loath to commit to when any facilities would be fully operational.
I imagine that Shaviram given that this matter is still subject to negotiation between Rushmoor and themselves would not feel able to confirm the situation and this may explain their lack of response currently.
I hope this explains why there is a lack of clarity at this stage and reassures you that the Council is aware of the issue and seeking to address it. Please do contact me if you have any further questions.