Council to build new Changing Places facility for Andover

Test Valley Borough Council is set to build a new Changing Places toilet facility in Andover for those with multiple and complex disabilities.

Located in the Unity office near the bus station, the new Changing Places toilet will be fully accessible and include changing benches and hoists. It will be the first facility of its kind provided by the council in the town and will be much larger than a standard disabled facility to help accommodate one or two carers. Places for People is also set to install an additional Changing Places toilet in the new Andover Leisure Centre.

The council identified the need for a Changing Places toilet in the town centre after local resident, Amy Attrill, submitted a petition to the authority as she struggled to find suitable facilities to change her son when away from home. The petition attracted almost 2,000 supporters.

Amy said: “I am over the moon that the council has agreed to install another Changing Places facility in the town. They were keen to understand how they could best help those with complex disabilities and I am pleased that we have been able to work together to deliver a new facility that will really benefit our son and others with similar needs.

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“The Unity office provides the perfect location as it is so close to the bus station, so I am really pleased they have agreed to put it there. I would also like to say a big thank you to Chris Dixon and Cat Randle from Mencap as they have been a great support from the very beginning.”

Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, councillor Phil North, said: “I am grateful to Amy for bringing this to the council’s attention and I am delighted that we have been able to take forward plans to deliver this new facility in the town. With the additional Changing Places facility set to be built in the new Andover Leisure Centre, we will be able to offer far better provision than most similar sized towns in the country.

“Changing Places toilets are designed for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets and they can therefore make a real difference to people’s lives. They enable those with complex disabilities and their families and carers to get out and about in the knowledge that they will be able to access safe and hygienic facilities without suffering the indignity of having to change, or be changed, on a toilet floor again.”

Chris Dixon, CEO from Mencap, commented: “We have supported this campaign led by Amy from the beginning and we are so pleased that she has realised the very thing she set out to achieve. This Changing Places facility in the centre of town will be accessible to many individuals, families and carers, many of whom have complex needs. It will make an incredible difference to those with additional needs and their families’ experience of shopping in the town centre. Well done to Amy and Test Valley Borough Council for bringing Andover this new facility and to Unity for agreeing to be a Changing Places partner.”

Unity chief executive, Terry Bishop, added: “We regularly come into contact with people who will benefit from this type of facility through our mobility and transport services, so we are delighted that we will be able to accommodate it at the Unity office.”

The architect is set to submit a building regulations application later this month with a view to commencing work at the end of October, subject to approval.