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Cobbles will hinder wheelchairs
7:00am Thursday 28th June 2012 in Salisbury Letters
NEWnational planning policy guidance, released in March 2012, states “It is important to plan positively for the achievement of high quality and inclusive design for all development, including individual buildings, public and private spaces and wider area development schemes.”
It defines inclusive design as: “Designing the built environment, including buildings and their surrounding spaces, to ensure that they can be accessed and used by everyone.”
Why then, is Wiltshire Council determined to remove disabled parking and cover the entire Salisbury Market and Guildhall Square area in cobbles? In a survey, 62 per cent of the people who took the time to reply, wanted the square made a pedestrian area, so of course it should be. However, on the very next question, 53 per cent voted to keep disabled parking in the square.
That being more than half means disabled parking should be kept in the square.
Less than a third of respondents actively disagreed with disabled parking spaces being kept in the Market Place. Additionally, 3,000 people signed petitions last year calling for the Market Place parking to be kept. It would be a perfectly reasonable solution to pedestrianise the market square, whilst increasing the provision of disabled parking in the Guildhall Square. This would enable everyone, including those whose mobility is impaired by disability or age, to access the market and banks, shops and cafés around the square.
Take a look in the Market Place, next to the statue of Sir Henry Fawcett. There are three rectangles on the ground, showing two different types of the proposed ‘granite setts’ (cobbles). One set is very bumpy and uneven, and the other is slightly less bumpy; but still very uneven. Either type would be guaranteed to cause considerable pain for me, and a great many other people, if we tried to cross an entire square of them in a wheelchair.
It would also be very difficult and dangerous to cross this surface using a walking stick, or with any other mobility impairment, including alcohol intoxication or high heeled shoes. Such a surface would therefore undoubtedly result in an increase in trips and falls.
If you compare the two types, the slightly smoother set of blocks appear to be the same blocks, but with some mortar over the top.
This proposed surface would be intended to remain for several decades; what would happen to that mortar in the coming years as thousands of feet crossed it, and as frost and beating sun had their effect?
What would the ongoing maintenance cost be?
In the current economic climate, can we guarantee that we'd be able to maintain it at all in 10 years time?
How sustainable is the use of granite imported from overseas?
There is an Area Board Meeting at 6.30pm on July 5 at the Methodist Church, in St Edmund’s Church Street. I urge you to go along, and tell your elected councillors what you think of these plans.
HELEN FARMER Salisbury