The opening of a new £105,000 accessible Changing Places facility in Harlow is enabling children and young people with disabilities to have fun and enjoy the great outdoors.
The new facility, which is located at Pets’ Corner in Town Park, was officially opened by the Vice Chair of Harlow Council, Councillor Maggie Hulcoop and Chairman of Essex County Council (ECC), Councillor John Aldridge, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today, Thursday 20 July.
Changing Places facilities are different from standard accessible toilets because they offer more space, specialist equipment and a height adjustable changing bench and hoist.
The new site is fully funded by ECC’s Short Breaks for Disabled Children’s capital grant scheme and is the second Changing Places facility to be built in Harlow.
Councillor Dick Madden, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “We’re committed to ensuring all children and young people in Essex are able to experience the same opportunities and that families are not restricted in terms of the places they are able to visit across the county.
“I’m delighted we have been able to support such a fantastic project and proud we have been able to fund a number of Changing Places facilities across the county.”
The new site is one of 28 Changing Places facilities across Essex and the location was chosen following consultation with local families who were keen the facility was near a green space so they can spend more time together outdoors and also have access to the other facilities that Town Park offers.
The park covers 164 acres and also includes sensory and walled gardens, the Stort Valley Meadows and Peace Wood, a paddling pool, bandstand, skate park, outdoor gym, adventure playground and Spurriers House.
To access the new facility, families must register with Harlow Council for a unique key. The key can also be used to access the existing Changing Places site behind the bus station in the town centre.
Councillor Tony Durcan, Harlow Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Enterprise, said: “I’m extremely happy we’ve been able to work together with Essex County Council to deliver the new Changing Places site at the much-loved Pets’ Corner and I’m pleased families can enjoy days out here without the worry of whether there will be suitable facilities for their child.
“The whole of the town park has seen fantastic developments over the past nine months, having been completely transformed and now Pets’ Corner offers an education space for schools and a concert area and the nearby bandstand has been renewed.
“Families have the chance to experience a bit of the countryside right in the heart of Harlow and this summer I encourage local people to head down and see what this fantastic park has to offer.”