The venue, acknowledged as being the area’s “jewel in the crown’ with its nature reserve, fishing, lakes, gardens and forest adventure experience, already welcomes over one million visitors a year.
By opening the first, "Space to Change", wheelchair-accessible toilet with changing bench and hoist, Tilgate Park will now be accessible to even more visitors.
The Space to Change enhances a conventional wheelchair-accessible toilet by also incorporating an adult-sized changing bench and hoist, supplied and installed by the UK’s leading away from home accessible toilet solutions company, Clos-o-Mat.
The improved toilet facilities form part of a five-year development plan for Tilgate Park, which includes improvements to parking, the access road, and paths.
Explained Vikki Fold, Crawley Borough Council’s community development officer,
“At a youth event, a teenage wheelchair-user said there needed to be more hoist-assisted toilets in Crawley.
Tilgate is having development work done, and the existing wheelchair-accessible WC was big enough to accommodate the extra equipment, so we thought it would be a good idea to tie it in.
We are committed to doing what is right for local residents and visitors, without damaging the Park.”
Added Samantha Buck, local campaigner for hoist-assisted toilet facilities,
“If you care for someone who is in a wheelchair, if they are bigger than a baby, you will probably need a hoist to lift them.
Without it, you can’t use the toilet facilities and have to either cut your visit short, or not go at all. A hoist takes up no space, but makes such a difference to families like mine.
It means we can go out and about, spend time- and money- at a venue, and relax knowing we can all access suitable toilet facilities.”
A Space to Change toilet takes a standard ‘Document M’ wheelchair accessible toilet, adds more space to it (if required) to achieve a minimum 7.5m2, and an adult-sized changing bench and hoist.
Under British Standards, Changing Places are in addition to that standard wheelchair-accessible toilet, at least 12m2 (3m x 4m), and include a ceiling track hoist and height-adjustable adult-sized changing bench.
Campaigners experienced that many venues could not allocate the additional space, funds required, so devised Space to Change as a compromise, which still delivers the equipment they need.