Changing places toilet to be included at the Orchard Centre

Didcot is set to be the only town in Oxfordshire to have two Changing Places toilets for shoppers with disabilities to use.

South Oxfordshire District Council is paying for a new changing places toilet designed specifically for people with multiple learning or physical disabilities to be installed in the new extension to the Orchard Centre. The room includes a height adjustable changing bench, a hoist and plenty of space for up to two carers to support the individual requiring assistance.

Ensuring the town is accessible to all is one of the principles set out in the Didcot Garden Town plan and so the district council allocated funds from the garden town project to provide the best quality facilities available ready to serve the growing town.

The district council already has a changing places toilet inside their arts centre at Cornerstone and this is accessible when the building is open. The new toilet at the Orchard Centre will be open during shopping hours for people with a special access key.

Councillor John Cotton, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said, “Didcot will easily be our largest town and it is vital we have the facilities in place to support new and existing residents. It’s an exciting time for Didcot and to have more than one changing places toilet will make the town centre fully accessible to everyone whatever the time of day.”

Mrs Karen England, mother of three and full time carer for her 14-year-old daughter said, “I’m delighted that there will be a Changing Places facility in the Orchard Centre. Thousands of disabled people rely on these facilities every day and it will make shopping, eating out and socialising so much easier. It will be so much more enjoyable for our family and so many others knowing we do not have to find a suitable toilet - or worse, go home because there isn’t one!”

Thomas Cochrane, Development Manager at Hammerson said, “We’re pleased to have been able to work with the district council to provide a Changing Places facility for our shoppers. We want everyone who visits the Orchard Centre feel welcomed and catered for, which this helps to achieve.”

The Orchard Centre is a £50 million investment by Hammerson and is a significant milestone to transform the town as part of the garden town plans.

Hammerson is planning to open the centre with a Marks and Spencer food hall, high street stores including River Island and H&M, new restaurants and coffee shops, and the changing places facility in Spring next year.

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That’s really good news! Well done to all those who have worked to make this happen.

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