The change of use of a gym in Leeds to a function room has been rejected at appeal after an inspector found that the lack of level access would not be acceptable in terms of accessibility (DCS Number 400-032-398).
The inspector observed that the venue occupied the first floor of a building, accessed via stairs from both the front and rear of the property. Due to its position on the first floor, he considered that the multi-functional room would be difficult to access for some if they were to find using what was a reasonably narrow flight of stairs problematic.
Although not detailed on the plans, the inspector saw that domestic-style stairlifts had been installed to the rear service staircase. He reasoned, however, that use of these stairlifts would involve the user being segregated from the primary front entrance and having to traverse to the rear of the premises via a road where there were limited footways. Access would then have to be taken via a narrow ledge past a bin storage area to the rear service door which did not appear to have level access.
The inspector considered that it would not be a pleasant or easy way to arrive at the premises and in many respects would be rather undignified for a visitor. It would not provide easy access for those who could not use the stairs and due to its characteristics, it would not be inclusive. He concluded that the lack of level access resulted in a proposal that would have poor levels of accessibility and which would conflict with development plan policy which required development that was accessible to all users.
There is a section on Access for all at 4.1543 of DCP Online.