Town Hall refurbishment to make it disabled compliant

HISTORY

Silsden Town HallIn 2012 the idea was muted that Silsden Town Hall should be made disabled compliant. This was thought to be an excellent idea when proposed (by Councillor Mallinson – Ward Councillor) to a group of the local History Group and the Silsden Players, a local amateur dramatics group – they all voted in favour of the proposal with the promise that facilities for their groups would be improved with the refurbishment. This was a meeting by invite only and from the vote in favour of the proposal came the idea “Silsden was in favour of the proposal”.

HOWEVER

What Councillor Mallinson neglected to say before the vote was taken was that to pay for the refurbishment BDMC (Bradford Council) would sell Wesley Place and the library, and the council would pocket the difference between the cost of the refurbishment of the Town Hall and the sell-off of a prime piece of community land in the centre of Silsden.

TO MAKE THE TOWN HALL DISABLED COMPLIANT

The reason the Town Hall has not been made disabled compliant to date is because it’s a Victorian building which is impossible to make compliant without bending the rules, and bend the rules they have!

  • Pictures of the outside of the Town Hall

THE RAMP

Proposed ramp and front entrance of Silsden Town Hall

Proposed ramp and front entrance of Silsden Town Hall

The Town Hall is in a conservation area and it is proposed to build an eyesore-wart of a ramp at the front entrance, but the pavement is not wide enough to accommodate a pavement of 1.5m and a ramp of 1.5m (both minimum widths required by law) so the ramp has been made narrower than the disabled minimum requirements. This is the main entrance to the Town Hall and the proposal restricts the exit if there was an emergency.

The pavement will be restricted by the ramp at a point where people will be waiting to use the Zebra Crossing.

THE LIFT and the UPPER FLOOR ESCAPE ROUTES

Rear fire escape and lift position

Rear fire escape and lift position

At great expense a lift – £35K,  will be put in which will restrict the size and usefulness of the back room, but it will enable wheelchair users to get to the upper floor. A new fire escape is proposed from the upper floor, unfortunately it will not be suitable for a wheelchair user because it has steps. In fact all the fire escape routes  from the upper floor have steps and evacuation from the upper floor for users who cannot walk down steps will require chair lift assistance.

 THE REAR FIRE ESCAPE

dsc2259The new fire escape will be an improvement on what is there at the moment but it doesn’t facilitate wheelchair users and the route to a safe area still has many hazards such as downpipes, steps, and past the kitchen which is the most likely source of a fire.

FIRE ESCAPES

STEPS, the rear exits – apart from the from the main front entrance all other exits will have the hazard of steps from the upper and lower floor. The rear fire escapes all converge on one point (from different directions) and all go pass the kitchen. The escape from the convergence point depends on a gate being unlocked and the escape route not being blocked by a parked car or an industrial waste bin.

FRONT EXIT – the ramp at the front of the building will restrict the progress of people using this as the only exit. This could be the only exit if a fire was to breakout in the kitchen area. The building could potentially be host to 200 people and there could be able and disabled. Any evacuation of the building could be delayed if the users of the Town Hall included those with walking difficulties.

REDEVELOPMENT TO ACCOMMODATE DDA COMPLIANCE

The refurbishment will result in smaller rooms and restricted use. The library will be moved into the small council chambers (the historic council furniture and Silsden Council will be evicted – no need to call it the town hall?). The Town Hall may not be viable as a rentable space after the refurbishment but there will be some superb toilets and a stage on the upper floor for the Silsden Players, pity those in wheelchairs will not be able to use the floor unless there is someone qualified to carry them down the stairs!

ACCESS

It is not possible to park (legally) outside of the Town Hall and these changes will not change anything, if anything it will make it more difficult to access the Town Hall.

OUTSTANDING REPAIRS

The Town Hall has outstanding capital repairs dating back over several years, these were said to be £175K

THE COST

To make make the Town Hall disabled compliant is estimated to cost £300K

Capital repairs, the roof and exterior is estimated to be £76.5K ( no I don’t know where the other £98.5K went to that was in the original outstanding capital repairs estimate )

The sell off of the library and Wesley Place (is probably worth £600K to a developer for houses). £300K will go to pay for the Town Hall refurbishment The extra £300K? will go to Bradford and will not be invested in Silsden.

CONCLUSION

The Town Hall is not really fit for purpose and it should be sold for redevelopment with an alternative use such as offices or accommodation. However, the proposed refurbishment will be a bodge job to make the Town Hall DDA compliant? As able bodied I would feel unsafe attending an event on the upper floor and having a good knowledge of the proposed changes I’m not too sure about the safety of an event on the ground floor either.

This is a waste of £300K

If this refurbishment of the Town Hall goes ahead, as a result of this project, then Wesley Place and the land won which the current library (a prime community location) will be lost to Silsden. A purpose built community centre could be built on this land. It could accommodate the library, and could have flexible large and small meeting rooms. As a new build on a flat plot of land with a large adjacent car park it would be easy to make it disabled compliant.

REFERENCES

Forum topics on silsden.net
Silsden Town Council Statements
Town Hall ‘Steering Group’ minutes (group in favour of plans – mostly BMDC employees)

HELP

Will you sit by and watch this happen?

 

 

 

None found.
Posted in Town Hall Refurb, Wesley Place & Library

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