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Appeal: Five Guys Kensington access ‘far from ideal’ for disabled customers

Five Guys / Shutterstock: 628297955

The Kensington High Street branch of burger chain Five Guys must install a permanent access ramp, an inspector has ruled, dismissing the appellant’s claim that doing so would cost ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’.

The appeal relates to a commercial unit on Kensington High Street, West London, in class A3 (restaurant) use. It was purchased by the American burger chain Five Guys in 2016, and permission was granted by Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council to install a new shopfront, subject to a number of conditions. One of these required the appellant to submit details showing that the design would provide “inclusive access for all patrons” prior to installation.

The shopfront has been installed with a stepped access 15cm from the ground, and a call bell for disabled customers. When the bell is rung, a member of staff is required to deploy a temporary ramp, and remove it once it has been used.

Noting that it would require staff to be available to deploy the ramp at all times, creating difficulty in peak periods, inspector Grahame Gould called the temporary ramp arrangement “far from ideal” for customers with a disability, compared with a permanent ramp.

The appellant argued that installing a permanent ramp would require physical alterations to the floor slab that could compromise the building’s stability, costing “several hundreds of thousands of pounds” in installation costs and lost revenue. The appellant’s structural engineer was quoted as saying “we would recommend against undertaking any works to the existing floor slab if other feasible options exist”.

Inspector Gould ruled that although it had been “advised against”, the structural evidence available did not demonstrate that installing a ramp would be impossible. He was not persuaded that the works would be as “structurally challenging” as contended by the appellant, noting that of various other units within the building to each side, all but one have permanent ramped or level access, and there is nothing “structurally unique” about the unit in question. Furthermore, he added, no detailed cost estimate had been submitted.

Gould concluded that the temporary ramp did not comply with the local development plan, and the appeal was dismissed. In a separate decision, he rejected the appellant’s cost application against the council, ruling that it had been right to take a precautionary approach given the lack of evidence submitted.

The inspector’s report – case reference 3183467 – can be read here.

Image credit | Shutterstock