Agenda item


            The Director of Property and Projects submitted for the Committee’s consideration the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to update Members on proposals to re-locate the existing disability-accessible WC and to create of a new Family Room in the East Wing of the City Hall, and also to reverse the positioning of the existing toilet facilities in the East area to facilitate these changes.


2.0       Decision(s) required and recommendations


2.1       The Committee is requested to:


·        approve the proposal to re-locate the existing disability-accessible WC; create a new family room to enable breast-feeding/feeding and changing facilities for young children and reverse the current positioning of the ladies and gents’ toilet locations in the East entrance area in order to enhance compliance with statutory duties and best practice; and

·        note the update in respect of the proposed provision of a Changing Places Facility in the City Hall and that a further update will be brought back in due course on this.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Members will be aware that the new Exhibition area in the City Hall opened to the public on 16th May 2017. As part of this overall facility, and in line with the requirements of the Building Control service in terms of compliance with the relevant building regulations and disability access legislation, a disability-accessible WC facility was built adjacent to the existing male toilets in the East entrance area. Under the regulations this must be located within 30m of the main Exhibition facility.


3.2       The available space to construct this facility was quite limited due to the construction of the walls and the existing layout of the area, and consequently a modest relaxation of the strict application of the building regulations was allowed by Building Control. Although this is a perfectly legitimate application of the professional discretion allowed to Building Control it is recognised that, although the facility is now operational and useable, it would be better if it could be enhanced in terms of its size and fit-out and be made fully compliant with the regulations in all respects.


3.3       At the same time, the Committee will also be aware that the issue of the lack of a dedicated and private family room for people with small children and breast-feeding mothers has been a concern for some time.  Committee will be aware that this is currently on the council’s Capital Programme as a Stage 2 projects as part of the wider scheme involving – City Hall – Family Room and the Additional Toilet Provision (including a Changing Places facility).  An update in respect of the proposed Changing Places facility is given at 3.7 below. 


3.4       An opportunity now exists however to deal with both matters in the course of a single project, which could be undertaken relatively quickly and would offer a number of benefits. This would involve moving the existing disability-accessible WC facility across to a new location adjacent to the current ladies’ toilets in the East entrance area where more space is available to provide a larger overall facility, and then to refurbish the existing disabled toilet and create a new, dedicated Family Room at that location.


3.5       In order to further enhance this provision it would also be the intention to ‘swap’ the ladies and gents’ toilet positions on the East entrance area at the same time, and to re-fit each. This would produce a more intuitive overall result in which the Family facility would be adjacent to the female toilets on the south side and the disability-accessible facility adjacent to the gents toilet area on the north side, and this does have significant benefits for the organization, most notably in terms of regularising the disability-accessible WC provision and at the same time dealing with a long-standing omission in terms of a dedicated family facility. Both facilities would of course have separate entrance areas and be clearly sign-posted. The proposed layout is illustrated in Appendix 1 (attached).


3.6       If approved, the project would be delivered by the in-house Property Maintenance unit, and is planned to be complete by mid-December however this is dependent on the outcome of a number of competitive procurement exercises and this date may therefore change. Any significant changes to timescales will be brought to the Committee’s attention. Detailed plans setting out the layout and dimensions of both facilities have been lodged with the Building Control service, and the intended scheme has also been submitted to the Heritage Service for approval as required in light of the fact that the City Hall is a Grade B listed building. Both of these statutory approvals will of course be necessary before the project can physically commence, however the Committee’s approval in principle is now sought in order to facilitate design and planning activity.


3.7       Update on Changing Places facility


            As outlined above Members will be aware that there has been demand for some time for the provision of a Changing Places facility within the City Hall.  This is part of the wider Stage 2 – Uncommitted scheme. Work is currently underway in respect of the options available for a Changing Place facility on the ground floor within the City Hall and a further update will be brought back to Committee in due course.


3.8       Financial and Resource Implications


            The overall project costs are estimated to be £30,000. If approved, the project is to be funded as a non-recurring scheme. The Director of Finance & Resources has confirmed that this is within the affordability limits of the Council.


3.9       Equality or Good Relations Implications


            The work comprised in this proposal will enhance the council’s offer to people with disabilities and also to people with young children and improve statutory compliance, and is therefore a benefit in terms of equality. Equality staff have been consulted in relation to these proposals and are content to recommend them to the Committee.”


            The Committee adopted the recommendations.


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