Ramping up the Access

St Andrew’s House : Front Entrance. Opened in 1939 and made accessible 50 years later

It used to be the name of a long-gone credit card – giving you Access to untold pleasures from spending your own money.  Today it is part of our equalities agenda.

Last night, I saw some early drawings from our architects of what could be done, might be done, should be done and must be done to bring the Town Hall up to date. I’m not sure of the sequence of their thinking but by starting from securing modern standards of accessibility they end up radically improving the Hall for all.

For example, one idea is to remove the grotty, awkward, second class wheel chair ramp at the east side and instead make the front entrance much grander.  I had thought this would be difficult in a listed building but the Government did it a long time ago on the “A” listed St Andrews House on Regent Road.

Our Town Hall would get a pair of elegant, gently sloping ramps along the front façade, leading to an extended platform and steps at the front door.  At a stroke, we get a grand entrance for all, a ceremonial site, worthy of our ambitions for New Life for the Heart of Portobello.  The pavement outside would have to be adjusted a bit but we are getting used to that.

Meanwhile, thinking through access to spaces inside means having a lift (or even two).  This is why we employ architects to see through to a better way of organising space.

Keep calm, none of this may happen as it all costs money but we if we don’t aim for quality and equality we end up with the wrong outcome.  I’m pushing for the best.


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