Fears raised over safety of new Waterlooville centre ramp

(l-r) Andy Bundy and Fred Dunford. Picture: Allan Hutchings (143032-360)
(l-r) Andy Bundy and Fred Dunford. Picture: Allan Hutchings (143032-360)

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A NEW pedestrian ramp aimed at joining the older and newer parts of Waterlooville has been criticised by disabled people.

Members of Havant Area Disability Access Group have questioned the design of the huge ramp off Maurepas Way that leads down to the retail parks.

The structure has been built using developers’ contributions as part of the new Sainsbury’s development.

But Andy Bundy, secretary of Havant Area Disability Access Group, said: ‘There’s two parts of a continuous ramp, which although very shallow, are very long with no resting or stopping points.

‘So if you lose control of a manual chair, you’ll end up against the bottom of each section in a not very pretty state. The total length of the ramp is 185m, which is a very long walk if you are pushing a wheelchair or even if you are an elderly person with a walking stick.

‘It’s just not very well thought-out and not very considerate of disabled people or the elderly.’

Mr Bundy, 44, from Purbrook, was also concerned that the ramp is shared by cyclists and that disabled people were not properly consulted about it.

‘Cyclists on a ramp will go much faster, especially with the 180-degree turn at the bottom,’ he said.

‘If they take that at speed, they may not be able to see a disabled person coming the other way.’

Fred Dunford, 66, of Beaconsfield Road, Waterlooville, who uses a manual wheelchair, struggled to get up the ramp.

He said: ‘It’s badly designed. The main thing is it could have done with some flat areas. It needs some resting places.

‘I am quite strong but people walking with a walking frame or stick, they need a rest.

‘I can do it, but it’s hard work. People will struggle.’

Val Hartridge, 78, from Cowplain, chairwoman of the group, said: ‘It’s a very good slope – I actually think it’s quite reasonable. But at the end there is no footpath connecting it with the shops.

‘The slope is reasonable but if I was a bit older then I think I would find it hard work.’

Councillor Seán Woodward, who is in charge of transport at Hampshire County Council, said: ‘I am sorry to hear that some people are unhappy with the new walkway which connects Sainsbury’s with Waterlooville town centre.

‘The walkway was built as part of the planning permission granted to Sainsbury’s by Havant Borough Council.

‘As the highway authority, the county council was responsible for approving the design and overseeing the construction. I can confirm that the walkway was designed in accordance with the highways design standards. As the gradient of the ramp is flatter than one that requires rest points, they were not included in this design. The walkway is also wide enough to accommodate shared use, so that cyclists, walkers and those with disabilities could all benefit from the walkway, however I would remind all users to be considerate to others.

‘The Havant Area Disability Access Group has been invited to meet our engineers to talk through any issues they may have to see if we can make using the ramp as easy as possible for them.’