Charity hopes beach wheelchair facility plans will help more people enjoy a day at the Sunderland seaside

Proposals for a ‘beach wheelchair’ facility improving access to Sunderland’s coastline have been lodged with planning chiefs.

Sunderland City Council is seeking approval for the facility on land next to Adventure Sunderland, at Marine Walk, in Roker.

The initiative, which city leaders have already committed funding to, would include a storage unit, complete with ramped access, built at the site to loan out specially adapted beach wheelchairs.

According to documents submitted with a planning application for the scheme, the development would allow people with wheelchairs or with mobility issues to hire wheelchairs free of charge to enjoy a day at the beach.

An example of the type of beach wheelchairs offered by Beach Access North East.

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The beach wheelchairs, including balloon tyre upright chairs and three wheeler hippocampe models, are designed to make travelling across sand or shells possible.

The project will be led by charity Beach Access North East, which has similar facilities elsewhere in the region, including in Northumberland and South Shields.

To get the Roker project up and running, the charity will work with the city council, as well as the Sunderland Parent Carer Forum and Headway Wearside.

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Plans included in the submission claim it is important planners “understand the wider context of the site and its surrounds” when considering the scheme.

It adds: “The proposed site forms part of the lower seafront promenade, its open spaces, beaches and other recreational facilities.

“The provision of beach wheelchairs allows those visitors who can’t normally directly access the beach to do so and build upon the wider investment in an accessible seafront for all. “

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Beach Access North East will be using ‘Spacehive Crowdfunding’ to help with a shortfall due to rising costs.

This also includes upgrades to the container’s visual appearance, as well as allowing for a future installation of electricity supply.

Caroline Corfield, chair of Beach Access North East, added: “Beach Access North East believes the beauty of the beaches in the North East should be freely enjoyed by everyone and aims to work with local people to help make that happen.”

A decision on the planning application is expected to be made by May.

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For more information on the planning application, visit Sunderland City Council’s online planning portal and search reference: 22/00488/LP3

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