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Bank's wheelchair ramp plan refused by councillors
COUNCILLORS have refused to sanction a new disabled ramp at a Grade-II listed Darlington bank after branding the plans “monstrous.”
Barclays Bank had applied to build a wheelchair-accessible ramp with handrails at the front of its branch in High Row.
The ramp, which would have stretched across the bank’s frontage to its ATM machine, would have replaced its current main entrance steps and disabled side door.
The plans received no objections and had support from disabled advocacy group, Darlington Association on Disability.
However, members of Darlington Borough Council's planning committee rejected the proposals, fearing a new ramp would spoil the architectural and historic significance of the building’s design.
Dave Coates, Principal Planning Officer, recommended the application be turned down on the grounds it would detract from the bank’s facade.
He said: “This is a Grade-II listed building and we need to treat it with great sympathy.
“It is quite special in the town centre and although the ramp works in functional terms, aesthetically it would be an absolute disaster.
“We are trying to support disabled access, but this is an unacceptable solution.”
Councillor David Lyonette said he was disappointed by the design.
He said: “I do not know how it is going to work, we have supported the business with previous applications but this one is just monstrous.
“I just don’t understand the thinking behind it and how those responsible thought it would be acceptable.”
Councillor Lynne Haszeldine added: “I have used the current disabled access at the side of the bank with a pushchair before and have always found it to be fine.”
The rejection came despite Darlington Association on Disability chairman, Gordon Pybus, previously backing the application.
He said: “If every shop and bank in High Row had a ramp, 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 support the application.”