Calls for better accessibility at Newstead Abbey over ‘arduous and dangerous’ mile-long walk

The leader of a disability support charity says a number of disabled visitors are being excluded from Newstead Abbey due to poor accessibility.
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Anyone who catches the bus to the historic former home of Lord Byron is faced with a two-mile round trip from the bus stop to the abbey itself.

Currently the only way to reach the abbey from its gates is to either walk, or drive along a 1.3 mile-long track.

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For those who do not have access to a car, or cannot pay for a taxi, their only option to visit the site is via public transport, which terminates at the abbey gates.

Disability groups have called for better access for disabled visitors to Newstead AbbeyDisability groups have called for better access for disabled visitors to Newstead Abbey
Disability groups have called for better access for disabled visitors to Newstead Abbey

During a full council meeting of Nottingham Council on July 10, a Nottingham resident raised the issue and said the walk can be “arduous and dangerous” for people living with mobility problems.

Charlotte Throssel, who runs the Disability Support charity, agreed and said access to the site is a problem.

She said: “To make things more accessible would increase revenue.

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“Taxis would cost a fortune out there and not everyone has access to a car.

“It is excluding people and it is cutting off a potential revenue stream for the council.”

She further suggested the council could make mobility carts or wheelchairs available at the gates for people to use and, while the council would be hit with a cost initially, it would pay off in the long run.

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Today it is open to the public and managed by Nottingham Council’s museums and galleries service, alongside Nottingham Castle and Wollaton Hall.

In response to the concerns raised during the meeting, Coun Pavlos Kotsonis, council portfolio holder for leisure and culture, who oversees the site, said there may be an opportunity to utilise vehicles similar to Nottingham Castle’s land train at Newstead Abbey in the future, subject to funding.

He said: “As part of the redevelopment of Nottingham Castle the project was able to acquire the land train.

“To date we do not have plans or funding to purchase similar vehicles for Newstead Abbey and Wollaton Hall, this is all subject to funding I am afraid.

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“As we include new operation of the land train at the castle and better understand its usage and limitations, this might be something that in the future we want to expand to other sites.

“We obviously have to have a business case for this and look at practicalities and cost effective operations, but this is something we are looking at.

“For some, I do appreciate the walk from the bus stop to the Abbey is a long one and I will ask for options in the short-term that might be able to be used for people with mobility issues in particular.”

Under newly-released proposals, the council is also looking to get planning permission to expand the abbey’s toilets into the staff offices to increase their size and make them more accessible for those using wheelchairs and pushchairs.