Cambridge City Council is recognised nationally for providing a high quality and wide ranging leisure service to the city's residents and visitors. It is committed to ensuring that these services are available and accessible to everyone. A recently completed project at the Corn Exchange, the city's centre for arts and entertainment, was undertaken to improve facilities for the disabled. The new amenities include the installation of a special platform lift to provide wheelchair users with alternative access to special viewing boxes in the building's upper levels. Leicester-based Movement Management were awarded the contract to supply one of their Companion Prestige platform lifts.
Located in the heart of the city, the Corn Exchange, which was originally built in 1875, was used for trading corn until 1965. From the outset, however, it was designed to also be used as an entertainment centre. Early events held at the venue included wrestling and boxing as well as dances and balls. Since a major conversion in the 1980's, the Corn Exchange has become a diverse arts and entertainment centre, capable of accommodating an audience of up to 1849. It also has extensive conference facilities.
Recent improvements to the Corn Exchange have seen the inclusion of many new facilities, specifically for disabled users. In the auditorium, for example, there are now more seating areas for both wheelchair users and visually impaired people together with their respective attendants. There is an infra-red hearing system for those with hearing impairments and in some cases the performances are sign interpreted. The Prestige platform lift, supplied by Movement Management, enables wheelchair users to access the upstairs bar and special viewing boxes.
Mark Taylor, Operations Manager at the Corn Exchange explains. "For many years, we have been trying to increase the numbers of disabled visitors we could accommodate. The lift has made a big difference, enabling as many as twelve extra wheelchair users to attend performances. Due to the confines of the stairwell where the lift is located, it was not possible to install a passenger lift. Movement Management's Prestige platform lift is ideal. As a free standing unit, no pit is required thus keeping building work to a minimum."
Designed for travel up to three storeys indoors, the Prestige is a totally self contained unit, with a rated capacity of 400kg, suitable for a wheelchair user and attendant. It runs on a 240v single phase power supply and has its own integral shaft. Installation is very straightforward, requiring no adjacent wall or other support structure. A range of finishes and other options is available, making the
Prestige suitable for installation in any type of public building, including schools, hotels, theatres and offices.
Mark Taylor continues. "The Corn Exchange is a grade 2 listed building and so we had to consult the listed buildings officer regarding the design. The lift needed to look modern and obviously not part of the original building. The Prestige's stainless steel and glass panelling provides a very stylish and attractive contrast to the original architecture." The latest version of the Prestige, which was introduced to the UK market only two years ago, importantly fully meets the requirements of Approved Document M, a section of the English and Welsh building regulations. This is a statutory piece of legislation that gives definitive specifications for a building's features which provide access for disabled people.