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Bank ramp set to be blocked in High Row
12:02pm Tuesday 18th September 2012 in News
COUNCIL planning officers could be on a collision course with disability campaigners after recommending plans for a wheelchair-accessible ramp at a town centre bank be refused.
Barclays Bank wants to remove the main entrance steps at its Grade II-listed premises in Darlington’s High Row, to be replaced by a ramp, handrail and steps.
Members of Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee will debate the proposals at a meeting tomorrow.
The changes would see a ramp stretch out a considerable distance from the front of the building onto the public highway.
Planning officers are recommending the scheme be refused, although there have been no objections and disabled advocacy group Darlington Association on Disability (Dad) is in favour.
A report to members said: “The proposed ramp and replacement stairs, by virtue of their design and prominence, would compromise the application building’s architectural and historic significance and would harm the character and appearance of the town centre.
“The ramp would be located over the public highway and consequently there is a highway objection.
“Darlington Association on Disability commented that it supports the application, as the bank has poor access for disabled people and that although they have always supported highways in not having external ramps that protrude on to the public highway, this case is exceptional as the lift accessed from the side door is not satisfactory.”
Dad chairman Gordon Pybus said he was “torn” over the application.
He said: “If every shop and bank in the High Row had a ramp outside, we would have a problem and I support highways not wanting the pavements blocked, which can cause issues for visually-impaired people.
“However, I do not want to be a reason for Barclays to do nothing, so we are supporting the application.”
The committee meets at 1.30pm tomorrow, at the town hall.