Scrapping disabled access ’caused business to drop’

Tunbridge Wells Info Tech Businesses

Shop owners at the TN2 centre in Greggs Wood Road believe the scrapping of the access ramp to the community square has led to a decline in business.

The square was redeveloped as part of the £34 million regeneration scheme being undertaken by Town & Country housing association.

But while the new courtyard, which was opened to the public last month, delivered a larger community area and looks more inviting, according to Town & Country, the new design fails to incorporate disabled access.

Dee Patel, who has run Greggs Wood Newsagent for 25 years, believes many of his customers, particularly the elderly or those with pushchairs, have been put off visiting his store since the work finished.

He said: “My customers keep complaining. There are many elderly people here and now they either have to take the steps or walk all the way round to Lakeside Road. But in the winter, if there is snow or ice it will be a no-go area for them.

“It’s had a negative effect on my business and on other stores here. And some of the elderly no longer come here to buy their milk and bread.

“I don’t mind dropping off the occasional bag of food but can’t do it regularly. And if they come by bus, it just drops them off at the top of a flight of stairs.”

Faraz Syad, a pharmacist at Greggs Wood Pharmacy next door, agreed the removal of the ramp had made life difficult for many of his customers.

He said: “Disabled access is the biggest problem now for a lot of the customers who come in. They often complain about it.”

Kent county councillor Chris Hoare, who has been in contact with businesses on the issue, said: “My constituents are quite concerned about the lack of disabled access. I believe there is space for a ramp.

“I would like to see proper access and I am surprised the plans went through without it.”

A spokesman for Town & Country, which oversaw the redevelopment, said: “During the planning of the space outside the TN2 Centre, residents and local businesses were invited to discuss the new community square through consultations.

“The previous disabled access was no longer compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act and a ramp would have taken more than half the hard-scape in front of the centre.

“Wheelchair access is still available via Lakeside as well as the new path by the side of the pharmacy, giving access to the shops.

“We appreciate that the layout is very different to the original design. However, we have met the needs of the residents in creating a space that will be beneficial to the community.”

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter