TIC bosses say accessibility and ‘odour issues’ would be the first thing welcoming tourists.
Last updated 2 hours ago
Changes have been agreed to plans for a new tourist information office and adjoining three shop units in Blandford.
It comes after claims from the Board which runs the existing centre that the new office would be “a slur upon the reputation of our Georgian town.”
The site, south of the Greyhound Yard, close to Morrison’s, was given outline permission in 2017, but work never started, with another consent approved in 2020.
Now Dorset Council has approved the changes to the original plan to allow a lower floor level and some other minor alterations.
The site is immediately to the south of the Greyhound pub, between the Market Place and the town’s main Marsh and Ham car park where the existing TIC is based.
The Civic Society and Blandford town council had objected to the latest proposals claiming the buildings may not be fully accessible to everyone and questioned the size of the toilets within the tourist office, warning that having outward opening doors on the units could cause problems.
The board of Blandford Information Centre also objected to the proposals saying the design would mean people wanting to visit the tourist information centre having to enter through an area of public toilets and with the TIC area only half the size of the existing information centre at nearby Riverside House.
Said a statement of objection from the Board: “The frontage and ground-floor area are simply too small for our operations. The demand for accessibility (which we fully support) has already reduced the size of each unit by 10m² and the proposed ramp and path appear to be unsatisfactory.
“The TIC is the welcoming face of Blandford. It greets and informs thousands of visitors every year. If these plans were implemented it would mean that people expecting a welcome from TIC volunteers must first enter the TIC office/shop through a public toilet area.
“We, the Blandford TIC board and volunteers, find that the current plan is not comparable to our current premises in terms of aesthetics or usability. First, visitors passing through the toilet area may face queuing, manoeuvring of power chairs and, it must be said, odour issues. The public and volunteers accessing that area could be injured by outward-opening toilet doors. The ‘display area’ shown on the plan would need to be made secure and, even so, would be susceptible to damage, vandalism and antisocial behaviour. In short, the current plans would result in a slur upon the reputation of our Georgian town and be demoralising to our volunteers and visitors to Blandford.”
Planning officers said that a ramp had been added to the proposals and believed that many of the other comments could be dealt with through negotiation before building work started.