Proposal: Proposed mixed use development for new NHS Health and Wellbeing Centre, 184 residential flats, workspace and refurbishment of the Oast House to provide community / arts / workspace use with potential for café and theatre, and servicing and landscaping / amenity provision, together with associated parking, with disabled parking and drop off space only on site, and a decked parking solution on the Elmsleigh Centre surface car park.
Objection : The proposal for a development which provides 184 dwellings accessible to disabled residents is laudable. However, although 19 are intended to comply with Part M4(3): Category3: Wheelchair user dwellings the provision of only 6 parking spaces for disabled residents on site means 13 of those dwellings cannot realistically be occupied by wheelchair users.
Furthermore there do not appear to be any residential parking spaces for disabled people/wheelchair users at site 2, which does not appear to have a lift between levels.
The shortfall in parking suitable for wheelchair is further complicated by the significant distance between site 1 and site 2 via a tunnel which has inclined paving each side. This is very difficult for self-propelled wheelchair users to negotiate. As a result of this being a railway underpass, there appears to be no scope to improve the situation. The Kingston Road drop off point is also too far from the entrances to the residential blocks. In summary, the access to the residential development is ill-conceived.
Subject to the provision of additional suitable parking spaces, any planning permission granted for this development must included a condition stating which dwellings are to be to Part M4(2) and which are to be to Part M4 (3)(2)(b) as proposed in the documentation accompanying the application. If this is not done the requirement under building regulations defaults to all the dwellings being only visitable. Furthermore, by applying the condition the various design defects evident in the planning drawings can be properly addressed at the building regulations stage to ensure adequate access and facilities for disabled people.
As the client for this development, Spelthorne Council is in a position to influence the design and the opportunity to provide dwellings suitable for disabled people must not be missed. There has been a significant shortfall in such dwellings within the Borough due to the Council’s reluctance to require them when granting permissions in several recent major planning applications.
Turning to the non residential parts of the development, the position of cycle parking at the entrance to the health centre courtyard and the use of flexible seating there and to the lower terrace of The Gables have potential to create obstructions for wheelchair users and trip hazards for visually impaired people. It is suggested tables be fixed. Given the number of disabled and elderly people visiting the health centre the parking provision and the drop-off area both appear to be inadequate. The lack of other local parking will exacerbate the difficulty for such visitors.
There are likely to be other aspects of the design not suited to the welfare of disabled people but the vast amount of information and the disjoined presentation of the files makes the task of making a full assessing extremely difficult.