CONCERNS have been raised about access to the new £100million Civic Centre in Brent.
Despite much fanfare about it being ‘the greenest building in the UK’ and accessible by public transport, some visitors face a mile-long walk from Wembley Central station and just 10 per cent of the cycle racks are visible to the public.
Executive director of Brent Mencap, which supports people with disabilities, Ann O’Neill said: “I think it is difficult because there isn’t a bus stop right outside the building.
“At a Disability Connects Forum a couple of people pointed out that they had to walk down from the nearest bus stop. They asked how they were supposed to walk down there. When people who didn’t have a Blue Badge, but still had some disability, used to go to Mahatma Gandhi House they were able to get a pass to park outside. It’s unclear at the moment whether these people will be able to use the underground car park.” She added that it is ‘a beautiful building’.
Geraldine Cook, who lives in Brampton Grove, Barnhill, said it used to take her 10 minutes to get to the former Town Hall in Forty Lane.
She said: “I do long-distance walking so I put on my walking boots to see how long it would take me from Preston Road. It was 35 minutes downhill just to get there. It used to be 10 minutes in normal shoes.”
The centre in Engineer’s Way, Wembley, opened last month and is home to some 2,200 staff, bringing the council’s administrative and civic functions on to one site. It was graded ‘outstanding’ in the BREEAM ratings, making it the greenest public office building in the UK.
A number of buses service the centre, but unless visitors arrive at Wembley Park station it can be difficult to access. According to TfL’s journey planner, a library user coming from Willesden High Road faces a 41 minute journey, including a 12 minute walk – three minutes longer than travelling to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.
If visitors arrive at Wembley Central station, they have a one mile walk or 15 minute bus journey.
There are 250 cycle racks, but only 25 of these are outside the building while the remaining 225 are in the basement for staff. A council spokeswoman said if the 25 racks become full, the public are able to use the ones in the basement.
David Arditti, coordinator for Brent Cyclists, said: “I would say that 25 cycle racks may well be sufficient for current demand, bearing in mind that for many people Wembley is a very difficult place to cycle to. Except by Underground, it is a difficult place to reach.”
He added that the organisation and the council are working together to try to improve cycling in the area.
The centre has 156 parking spaces, but there is no all day parking for employees, with the exception of Blue Badge holders.
A spokesman for TfL said there are no plans at present to change the bus routes or bus stops which serve the centre.
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