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.
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