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Report on Draft Approvals Policy - Use of Road Reserves & Public Land for Commercial, Community & Charitable Activities

Attachment 7

29793/2008 - Issues Paper for Outdoor Dining and A-Frames Approvals Policy

 

ISSUES PAPER

PROPOSED POLICY FOR USE OF ROAD RESERVES AND PUBLIC LAND FOR COMMERCIAL, COMMUNITY AND CHARITABLE ACTIVITIES

 

 

1          INTRODUCTION

 

A working draft of the new policy for the use of road reserves and public land for commercial, community and charitable activities has been circulated to the relevant Council staff and Council’s Access Committee. A majority of the issues raised by Council staff have been addressed through changes to the draft of the Policy. The Access Committee raised some fundamental issues regarding the use of road reserves and public land and the provision of access for people with disabilities.

 

 

2          LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES

 

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) is federal legislation which can be used to address discrimination in many areas of public life. The DDA makes it illegal for anyone to treat a person with a disability unfairly. People who are relatives, friends, and carers of people with a disability are also protected by the DDA. The DDA was passed by the Commonwealth Government to fulfil its international obligation to implement the United Nations declaration that the right to have access to goods and services is a basic human right possessed by all people, regardless of ability or disability.

 

The DDA aims to remove barriers in the physical environment and in the attitudes and practices of people and organisations that limit people with disabilities from participating in everyday life. The DDA can be used to obtain fair treatment in many areas of life including gaining or using services including those provided by government (including local government) and this includes gaining access to public places.

 

The DDA supports the rights of people with disabilities to fair and equal treatment and makes it unlawful to discriminate against people with a disability in the areas of:

 

·          education

·          accommodation

·          access to premises

·          the provision of goods, services and facilities

·          the administration of Commonwealth laws and programs

·          the disposal of land

·          requests for information

 

Specifically, Section 23 of the DDA relates to the provision of access to premises. A person with a disability has a right to have access to places used by the public and the DDA makes it illegal for public places to be inaccessible to people with a disability. These places that are used by the public include (among other things) public footpaths and walkways. Non compliance with the DDA is only permitted where it can be demonstrated that compliance with the DDA would result in ‘unjustifiable hardship’.

 


The DDA also allows service providers such as Council to prepare Disability Action Plans (DAP). The purpose of a DAP is to assist service providers in eliminating discrimination in the provision of goods and services thereby achieving the objectives of the DDA.

 

Council prepared a DAP which was adopted on 5 February 2004. One of the strategies of Council’s DAP is ‘to ensure that Council has a footpath policy which considers the needs of people with disabilities’. The DAP identifies that this review should happen in the short term.

 

As the review of this policy is now occurring, it is timely that Council consider its obligations under the DDA and the commitment that has been made through the DAP to consider the needs of people with disabilities in the review of the existing footpath policy.

 

 

3          ACCESS COMMITTEE

 

The Access Committee resolved at its meeting on 26 July 2005 to make the following recommendations in relation to Council’s draft policy:

 

§  The policy is to require that all footpaths in high traffic areas maintain a clear accessible walkway outwards from the building or shoreline to at least the width of the requirement of the Australian Standard;

 

NB: AP-11.13/95 ‘Guide to Traffic Engineering Practice Part 13 Pedestrians’ specifies that high pedestrian volume footpaths must have a minimum width of 2.4m and a width of 1.8m for wheelchairs. The Standard states that free movement should be maintained and street furniture (including signs, tables etc) should be located to preserve an obstacle free footpath width. People with physical and visual disabilities have particular difficulty in avoiding and moving around obstacles in their path.

 

§  A frame signs not to be permitted on footpaths at all, but where under special circumstances Council by specific resolution approves such, a minimum clearance of 1m be maintained; and

 

§  Council consider approving designated areas which are purpose built/designed for the location of trading tables off the public thoroughfare (ie located on private land). It should be noted that the Access Committee are not seeking to have street stalls and the like established for fundraising by community or charitable groups prohibited.

 

The maintenance of an unimpeded pedestrian footpath along the front of buildings allows all pedestrians to move freely along the footpaths in the major town centres. People with disabilities have particular problems with negotiating obstacles due to the use of wheelchairs, canes, walking frames etc. For example, the visually impaired use the shoreline of buildings as a guide when walking. If they are using a cane to guide them also, a cane can slip under a clothes rack and if the clothes rack is not detected, a visually impaired person may walk into it.

 

The Access Committee have identified that “A” frame signs (in particular) are a problem and have recommended that they be prohibited except in special circumstances. They have also recommended that trading tables would be better located on private land in a permanent position.

 


4          POLICY OPTIONS

 

Council can consider the following options in relation to the recommendations made by the Access Committee:

 

A         Prohibit the placement of items such as “A” frame signs, trading tables, street vending, outdoor eating areas etc on any part of the footpath;

 

B          Establish a trading zone on the footpath whereby a 1.8m wide unimpeded footpath area (as stated in the AP-11.13/95 Standard) is provided (measured from the front property boundary) and then a trading zone is established. The width of the trading zone would depend on the overall width of the footpath, and allowances that will need to be made for the type of parking allowed on the street and area needed for people to get safely in and out of cars. The width of the trading zone may prevent certain land uses operating, for example, there may be inadequate width on the public footpath to establish new outdoor eating areas;

 

C         Maintain the status quo and continue to allow these various activities to remain on the footpath in their current form.

 

In relation to trading tables (particularly for street stalls, raffle ticket sellers etc), the establishment of permanent sites has merit provided that suitable sites are available within each of the town centres. Permanent sites allow for permanent fixtures such as tables, power points, chairs etc to be available for the vendors and would also provide vendors with protection from the weather. However, these sites need to be located in areas that are ‘busy’ to ensure vendors of some success with fundraising. Over the long term, Council should give consideration to locating permanent sites in the town centres. This option could be considered for Nambucca Heads as part of the Bowra Street upgrade.

 

5          DRAFT POLICY

 

The draft policy has generally adopted Option B above, which allows all footpath trading to continue, but requires a 1800mm clearway along the footpath, measured from the shop front. The draft policy allows one exception to this - being that trading tables operated by charities may operate at the shop front side of the pavement for safety and amenity reasons.

 

It is acknowledged that there will be safety and amenity considerations for other street vendors. However, there are very few other street vendors and these will be considered on a merit basis.

 

6          CONCLUSION

 

It must be emphasised that Council has responsibilities under the DDA to ensure equitable access for persons with disabilities in those goods and services that it provides in the community. The formulation of a new policy for the use of road reserves and public land gives Council the opportunity to address any potential problems that may arise under the DDA. Council has also committed to reviewing this Policy in its Disability Action Plan with a view to improving access for people with disabilities along public footpaths.

 

The draft policy is attached and is presented to Council for consideration in light of the above issues and the recommendations from Council’s Access Committee.

 

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Report on Draft Approvals Policy - Use of Road Reserves & Public Land for Commercial, Community & Charitable Activities

Attachment 7

29793/2008 - Issues Paper for Outdoor Dining and A-Frames Approvals Policy