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Broads viewing platform accessibility criticised but plans get go ahead

PUBLISHED: 08:56 10 December 2018 | UPDATED: 08:56 10 December 2018

How a new viewing platform at Hoveton Great Broad will look. Picture: SMG Chartered Architects

How a new viewing platform at Hoveton Great Broad will look. Picture: SMG Chartered Architects

SMG

An approved new viewing platform at a Broads beauty spot has been criticised for not being wheelchair accessible at its highest point.

How a new viewing platform at Hoveton Great Broad will look. Picture: SMG Chartered ArchitectsHow a new viewing platform at Hoveton Great Broad will look. Picture: SMG Chartered Architects

A 5.5m viewing tower overlooking Hoveton Great Broad has received the unanimous approval of the Broads Authority’s planning committee.

The tower is to be placed at the end of a board walk on the site and will replace a derelict bird hide, which has recently been taken down.

It was proposed by Natural England and will provide prime viewing across the broad.

However, while members did approve, it was criticised for not providing full wheelchair access - with its highest point only accessible via steps.

How a new viewing platform at Hoveton Great Broad will look. Picture: SMG Chartered ArchitectsHow a new viewing platform at Hoveton Great Broad will look. Picture: SMG Chartered Architects

Lana Hempsall, Broadland District Council appointed member of the committee, said: “While I generally support the scheme as a whole, I am bitterly disappointed that in the 21st century it has not been possible to present a fully accessible application.

“Broadly, I do welcome it, but I do want to put my disappointment on record.”

Ms Hempsall added that she would have preferred the viewing point to have been wider to allow the tower to be accessed by ramp instead of steps.

Gail Harris, Norwich City Council’s representative on the committee, echoed her disappointment.

Lana Hempsall expressed disappointment at a proposed viewing tower's lack of wheelchair accessibility Picture: DENISE BRADLEYLana Hempsall expressed disappointment at a proposed viewing tower's lack of wheelchair accessibility Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

However, members unanimously agreed that the proposals were an improvement on the site’s current offering, particularly now the bird hide had been removed.

Bill Dickson, secretary of state appointed member, said: “I have visited this site several times before and it is brilliant - parts are like walking through a jungle.

“If Natural England feels this would be a worthwhile investment, then it has my support.”

BA chairman Haydn Thirtle had raised concerns the project would also be out of character with the rest of the site, but did too vote in favour of granting it planning permission.

Jack Ibbotson, planning officer at the BA, told members the board walk would sit a metre above the water level and that the structure would be masked by woodland.

While the top level of the tower would not be wheelchair accessible, the lower part of the viewing platform will be fully accessible.

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