Disabled campaigners slam seafront bar for opening roof terrace without lift

Posted On 05 May 2021 at 12:08 pm

An artist’s impression of the roof terrace

Disabled campaigners say they are disappointed after a seafront venue opened its new roof terrace with no way for wheelchair users to get up there.

Rockwater was granted planning permission last year for a new roof terrace and an accessibility lift – but although the terrace officially opened last weekend, the lift has not been installed.

The venue says it still hopes to install one, but had discovered the original plans would require “an exceptional amount of work” which it could not currently afford.

And for now the costs, coupled with covid, meant there would be a delay of some months.

Brighton and Hove City Council said they were investigating.

Julie Haria, whose husband uses a wheelchair, said the venue had “totally disregarded” people who can’t get to the upper deck.

She said: “My husband has come home after spending nine months in hospital. He was looking forward to going.

“I think for Rockwater to advertise and promote their venture, aiming it at the local community should consider the people with disabilities.

“Rockwater is on the promenade which is vastly used by wheelchair users. They have totally disregarded people who would love to use the upper deck and can’t.”

Brighton Access for Disabled Groups Everywhere (BADGE) has also criticised the lack of a lift.

A spokesperson said: “BADGE was pleased to see the addition of a fully accessible Changing Places toilet in this exciting Hove Seafront development.

“However it is disappointing that wheelchair users and people with family members with reduced mobility will not be able to access Rockwater’s roof deck.

“The access lift featured in the approved plans has not been installed, and it seems there is no firm date for this part of the approved scheme to be delivered.

“The roof terrace dining is the crowning glory, including the proposed exclusive Residence events to be held up top. Sad to say, that yet again in our ‘inclusive City of Sanctuary’ disabled people are last to be invited to the party.”

Last month, the venue came under fire for launching an “inclusive” membership scheme, which gives members priority event booking for £750 a year.

Despite the hefty price tag, Rockwater insisted that this would not mean any part of the venue would be restricted to members only.

Rockwater director Luke Davis said the venue still hoped to install a lift.

He said: “Disability access to Rockwater Hove has – from its inception – been one of our top priorities. To that end, we have managed to create universal access to the beachfront deck, bar and restaurant on the promenade level (via a lift) and to the lower ground floor lodge.

“We serve as one of a minimal number of venues on the promenade to provide a fully functioning Changing Places facility, ensuring this was one of our primary investments upon launch.

“As part of our ongoing growth plan, we hope to include a lift to the roof terrace, yet at present have encountered significant issues with the foundations beside the building, preventing us from completing this as per the original time scale.

“We are aware of the challenges of disability access across Brighton and Hove, and therefore as a business have considered this a key focus area, investing heavily into ensuring as many features within the venue can be enjoyed by all members of the community.

“It is important to note that we are still very much a start-up business within a critical stage of our launch phase. We therefore have had to manage the development of the site within the limitations of funding and challenges surrounding building work.

“We will continue to invest into methods of overcoming these difficulties as we progress in our growth over the coming months.

“We remain fully committed to finding a suitable solution to ensure all patrons of Rockwater Hove can enjoy our full suite of features and services.”

The original plans were recommended for refusal by planning officers, but approved by councillors on the planning committee after a huge amount of support from residents, ward councillors and Hove MP Peter Kyle.

  1. Nathan Adler Reply

    ‘Hope’ will not build a lift Mr Davis – commit to it and get it done. Rockwater looked so promising last summer trying to involve the community etc but it’s all looked very poor recently. Does the owner understand that 1 in 5 have a disability it’s a large potential section of your customers you could potentially be discouraging.

  2. Penny Tration Reply

    Surely part of the agreement to build the terrace was the accessible aspect of the design? To not do this is immoral and illegal. Perhaps the planning department in the council could do its job.

  3. Paul Temple Reply

    Lifts are not the expense they once were and there are affordable ones that can easily accommodate large wheelchairs – I simply do not buy the argument that the owner cannot afford it.

  4. Serena Evans Reply

    I wonder how many of those who backed his planning application for an extra storey now regret doing so?
    Not a community facility at all and discriminatory to disabled users. What a lovely neighbour!

  5. Esther Reazon Reply

    So Rockwater are looking for praise for complying with statutory building regulations to provide access to the common areas of their new venue? Isn’t the point of the Equalities Act that disabled people can have equal access to all the facilities and service on offer as non disabled people? So if a disabled person can’t hold an event or attend an event or have dinner on the roof terrace, this must mean that the venue isn’t fully accessible – so it is breaking the regulations? The Changing Places facility sounds good, and as a large venue this is probably something that should be done as good practice or even a requirement – otherwise it’s not providing equal access to be able to go to the toilet for its customers. Sounds like this establishment is in breach of the Regulations to me and thinks they can leave the lift til last. Let’s hope the Council Planning Dept are investigating this or they might be implicated by association of anyone takes action, for not enforcing Building Regs. The BADGE people called out the Council over the parking issue at Madeira Drive and it looks like they were right on that one. So I’m inclined to believe them if they say this is an issue. If my Mum comes to visit, she won’t be able to get up the stairs, because she’s got arthritis. Come on Rockwater – you need to meet everyone’s needs and maybe your roof terrace shouldn’t be open to ‘some’ but stay closed until it’s open to ‘all’!

  6. Greg Reply

    I wonder how the venue would explain to say a disabled individual who shelled out £750 on the ‘Residents’ card that they would not be able to access any of the ‘exclusive’ events on the roof terrace? The ethics of this company are becoming increasingly clear. I notice the original plans involved a kids playing area…wonder if that will be included…

    The ‘community’ rhetoric is both patronising and cynical and I suspect it will come back to bite them on their ‘exclusive’ bum.

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