After years of campaigning by Accessible Banbury the town will finally be home to a Changing Places disabled adult changing facility.
The announcement by Cherwell District Council (CDC) follows the release of its plans for one side of the former BHS store which will become an malleable cinema, educational and retail space known as Lock29.
The Changing Places facility will be built in the opposite side of the BHS store and construction is already under way behind the wall of the multi-storey car park walkway.
Kat Allsworth, member of Accessible Banbury, said: “All of us at Accessible Banbury are beyond excited about how close our town is to having its new disabled Changing Place.
“It will open up the town and its new exciting CQ2 development to everyone, regardless of their disability.”
Banbury town centre has long sat in the middle of an adult changing facility wasteland meaning that residents with disabled adult children cannot go out in their own town.
Accessible Banbury has also been involved in the design of the Changing Places to ensure it will be a facility appropriate for a wide spectrum of disabilities.
Kat said: “We did follow the Changing Places specification as it’s a tried and tested layout, but we worked closely with the fantastic architect on the project.
“It will be a welcoming space for people with any disability, including fully dependant people who require hoisting by carers as well as those who use a wheelchair but are able to hoist themselves as this will give them the privacy and dignity they deserve.
“There are also people with bladder, bowel, colostomy or other invisible illnesses that require the additional toileting space.
“We also contacted Leah Taylor from the Banbury & Oxfordshire Autism support group for her input and made some minor changes that will make a huge difference to autistic people.
“The colours are not too bright and it will be possible to have the lights dimmed by a member of staff.
“The hand dryer is also well away from the door so it can’t be accidentally set off while leaving the room. These will all help to reduce the risk of meltdowns.”
Kat added: “I’m sure people will think it strange to be as excited as I am about a toilet but this is no ordinary disabled toilet and will change the lives of so many disabled people, residents and visitors.”
Upon completion of the Castle Quay Waterfront development the Changing Places will be right at the heart of Castle Quay, equidistant from Spiceball Park and the Market Place entrance.
Rebecca Deeley, Castle Quay shopping centre management, added: “The Castle Quay shopping centre is all about our customers and occupiers, and we want to provide a space that is accessible for all.
“The inclusion of these adult changing spaces will allow all to use the centre and we have worked hard with stakeholders to ensure we are meeting their needs.
“We will continue to look for ways to improve this important community space, and would encourage members of the public to speak to the centre management team if they have any suggestions.
“In the meantime, we are looking forward to the new facilities opening.”
The new facilities, which include a family room, are due to open in November.