After two years of campaigning by a Banbury community group, the town centre is to become more accessible for disabled adults.
Cherwell District Council has announced that adult-changing facilities will be installed in Castle Quay, providing improved access to the shopping centre for Banbury’s disabled community.
Initial designs have been met with strong approval from local group Accessible Banbury, which has provided input to ensure the designs fully meet the requirements of residents.
The group was formed two years ago to highlight the inadequacy of Banbury’s adult-changing facilities and the need for such provisions.
Kat Allsworth, of Accessibility Banbury, said: “I’ve met up with a few carers of both children and adults within the Accessible Banbury group and they are all very happy with the plans and we can’t think of a single improvement.
“This will change the lives of people with disabilities living in Banbury - as well as those visiting town, who will be able to stay for longer as a result.”
Banbury sits in the middle of a adult-changing places desert, with the nearest one being 13 miles away in the M40, junction 10, service station.
Outside that people have to travel to Milton Keynes, Leamington or Towcester to find another one.
Almost a quarter of a million people in the UK require personal assistance to use the toilet or to change incontinence pads, be it people with learning difficulties, physical conditions such as cerebral palsy to those who have suffered a severe stroke.
The facility will be designed by specialist architects turnerbates, who have held consultations with Accessible Banbury throughout the design process. Inside they contain hoists, height adjustable changing tables and privacy screens.
Cllr Lynn Pratt, lead member for economy, regeneration and property at Cherwell District Council, said: “By working closely with Accessible Banbury, this has allowed us to deliver facilities that are truly fit for purpose, based on a real understanding of the needs of the community.
She added: “This will help make Castle Quay a more inclusive place to be enjoyed by all.”
No time frame or specific location have been announced.
The group is still pushing for similar facilities to be built in the council-run leisure centres.