NOBBYS beach will receive a family change room and accessible toilets under the second phase of an upgrade that had left many beach-goers fuming.
The internal upgrade of the historic Nobbys pavilion triggered a public outcry earlier this month as people visiting the beach realised the facility’s change rooms had been traded for more toilets.
On Thursday, Newcastle City Council announced that a dual-purpose building with a parents room and a “lift and change” facility with an accessible toilet and shower would be built alongside the lifeguard tower at Nobbys.
“This part of the project will provide a large changing space and dramatically improve access to Nobbys for people with mobility challenges,” lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.
“The design ensures the changing space provides excellent circulation for able-bodied people and also those who utilise mobility devices.”
The lift and change amenities would allow for the future installation of a hoist for “heavily mobility-impaired beach-goers,” offering them help to transfer to a beach or water chair if required.
Mount Hutton resident Rick Johnson had stopped his weekly visits to the city beach after discovering his wheelchair could not fit into the new toilet cubicles at Nobbys pavilion.
“We started going to Redhead, where they have excellent facilities,” Mr Johnson said.
He was pleased the council was addressing the accessibility problems.
“It’s better late than never, but it should have been done earlier,” Mr Johnson said.
Three new external shower towers would be built as part of the project, as well as an access ramp from Bathers Way to the lower promenade.
“It’s disappointing that it needs a public uprising to make the council see sense, but if you’re going to have beach facilities, change rooms are part of it, and they always have been,” John Ure, of Mount Hutton, said.
“It hadn’t been thought through properly. Nonetheless, it’s good to see they have recognised that this is not only what people want, but that it’s a reasonable demand that people should be able to have a shower and get changed with some degree of privacy after they have a swim.”
The SLSA NSW Community Inclusion Project would inject $100,000 into the $400,000 plan, but the remainder would come out of the council’s pocket.
Les Brennan, of Newcastle East, said council was “making decisions on the hop.”
Olivia Fairfax and Maddi McNally, both of Maitland, said not having change facilities at Nobbys was “inconvenient.”
“Especially if you come down here to do more than just go to the beach. We often come down here to have lunch as well,” Ms McNally said.
“You don’t want to have to get changed in the toilet, and you don’t want to have to stay in your wet clothes until you get home either,” Ms Fairfax said.
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