Calls to scrap ramps “unrealistic”

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CALLS to scrap the controversial new wheelchair ramps at the entrance to Montrose Museum are “unrealistic” due to the cost involved, a local councillor has said.

Mark Salmond told members of Montrose Community Council at their last meeting that around £200,000 was spent on improvements to the building’s interior and exterior and that changes to the design are unlikely.

He did admit, however, that the council needed “to learn lessons” from the outcry that has surrounded the final design of the scheme.

While critics have not argued with the need for access, they have described the dual ramp design as “hideous and horrendous”, “an abomination” and “overkill” which obscures the building’s frontage.

Referring to a three-page report compiled by senior council officers, Mr Salmond emphasised that the authority had little control over the project and that, as the building is B-listed, all aspects of the refurbishment scheme had to be approved by heritage body Historic Scotland. He also pointed out that the ramps’ dimensions comply with the required national standard for wheelchair access.

He said: “At the museum is category B listed, Angus Council can’t grant planning consent and the application must be considered and approved by Historic Scotland.

“It’s a complex process and various designs and building materials were discussed. It’s a symmetrical design with two ramps to complement the building and the use of local stone was approved by Historic Scotland as a condition of planning permission being granted.”

He added that delays in the project had been caused by supply problems with the stone’s supplier and no changes to the material, which contractors had already started using, could be made without Historic Scotland’s say-so.

Mr Salmond said: “We need to learn lessons from this and in future, with work on older buildings, we need to explain in a bit more detail to the public what we’re going to do and maybe provide 3-D designs of what it will look like.”