Changing Places in Bromley Open Parks To Disabled People

With spring on the horizon, many councils and local authorities are looking towards preparations for the return of the public en masse to their parks and green spaces. While most will be looking to make repairs to existing infrastructure, replace equipment or institute beautifying works, some are going beyond this and asking the question “what can we do to make our parks as accessible as they can be?” The London Borough of Bromley found an answer that goes some way to addressing this – the installation of a series of new Changing Places toilets.

Improving Accessibility Through Laser-Focused Interventions

Bromley is one of the 13 metropolitan centres of Greater London, with the wider borough being the largest by area of those that make up Greater London. Historically part of Kent, Bromley is unique among the London boroughs in that the vast majority of the area sits within the designated Metropolitan Green Belt, meaning it contains mostly suburban and rural conurbations.

This presents Bromley with a distinctive set of challenges. With limited resources available, a wide geographical area to cover, and multiple different use cases to cater for, how should they best deploy those resources to improve resident accessibility to the benefits that come from being part of the Green Belt?



Seeing an opportunity to address these challenges, and with the support of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ £30m Changing Places fund, Max Graham and the team at the Borough’s Culture and Regeneration division, put together a solid plan. They decided to target six key areas across the borough, a mix of parks and other leisure sites, that they believed would benefit the most from improvements in accessibility. These six projects – of which RISE was contracted to deliver two – comprised a series of Changing Places toilets, vital facilities that provide safe changing and hygiene facilities for people with multiple or serious disabilities.


What is a Changing Places toilet?

Changing Places are specially adapted toilets that provide equipment and space beyond that of a standard accessible loo. By law, to be considered a Changing Places, a facility must have:

  • A footprint of at least 12sqm
  • Anti-slip flooring
  • Pegs for hanging clothing
  • A full-length mirror
  • A peninsular toilet
  • Adjustable grab bars and handrails around the toilet
  • A shelf for ostomy bags
  • An adult-sized changing bench
  • A wide paper roller, to cover the bench during use
  • A height-adjustable sink
  • A full-room hoist system, to enable safe transfer from a wheelchair to the bench or toilet
  • RISE Changing Places also come with a shower as standard, but these aren’t a legal requirement

Without Changing Places toilets, non-ambulatory disabled people who need help to perform hygiene tasks while out and about face a difficult choice: plan short trips (so they’re not far from home), sit in a soiled toileting pad, or risk being changed somewhere dirty or dangerous, like on a public toilet floor or the back of a car. With them, disabled people and their families can travel in confidence, knowing that they have a safe and dignified place to do what we all need to do at some point – simply use a loo!

How Accessible Are YOUR Public Spaces?

RISE: Bromley’s Turnkey Solution Partner

RISE were contracted by the London Borough of Bromley to design, build and install two BS8300-compliant modular Changing Places toilet pods, at High Elms and Crystal Palace Parks, under our turnkey service. Taking the project on turnkey meant we looked after the entire process, from the initial surveys and design of the units, to obtaining planning permission, to construction, demolition and groundworks, to delivery, installation and beyond.

Though we’re also able to provide modular pods on a supply-only basis, the majority of our local authority and council clients tend to opt for this turnkey provision, as it both simplifies the process and reduces the load on local teams who may not be specialised in the kind of work required. Having completed dozens upon dozens of Changing Places installations over the past few years, RISE has the entire project chain down to a fine art, working with our own staff and tried-and-trusted subcontractors to deliver a final product that will ultimately save our clients money and stand the test of time.


High Elms Country Park

Set in 250 acres of countryside and featuring a 150-acre golf course, High Elms Country Park offers the nearby town of Orpington superb access to both recreational sport and the peace and tranquillity that comes with the green belt. The client opted to have this pod installed adjacent to an existing visitors centre and café, as it was felt this location would provide the most utility for visitors overall.

With the client opting for a timber-clad exterior, so the pod could match more readily with the surrounding area, the process was relatively straightforward. RISE carried out surveys and designs and, following sign-off from the client, took those designs for planning. As the adjacent visitors’ centre and car park fall outside the existing Site of Specific Scientific Interest, and the location selected a sufficient distance from the scheduled Ancient Monuments in the area, a supportive planning decision was easily obtained. As we started the build process at our factory, our groundworks partners at Manvers Main Construction attended site to clear away the existing outbuilding and prepare the site for its new Changing Places. Groundworks, build and quality control checks complete, all that was left was to crane the finished product into position – a tight squeeze to be sure, but an easy task for our crack squad of lifters and installers!


Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace Park almost needs no introduction. Purpose-built in the 1850s as a pleasure space to rehome the original Crystal Palace from central London (location of the 1851 Great Exhibition), Crystal Palace Park has since grown into a multipurpose leisure ground, featuring the National Sports Centre, many sculptures and statues of important artistic note, a skate park, an extensive subway system, a concert platform and much more. The Park is currently benefiting from a focused regeneration effort in the form of the Crystal Palace Park Regeneration Plan, which has seen improvements and repairs made to many of the park’s facilities and will transfer it to the Crystal Palace Park Trust, who will manage and maintain it as a community asset.

Opting for a red cedar-clad finish, just one of a variety of customisations available for our CP pods, our team set our turnkey service to work. However, in comparison to the installation at High Elms, the site selected here posed some difficulties from a planning perspective:

  • It fell within the Crystal Palace Park Conservation Area
  • It was located relatively close to a series of listed buildings and structures, the nearest being locally listed residential properties immediately adjacent to the site
  • There was no existing level access to the proposed CPT, and its exposed location adjacent to a car park may have posed a risk to users with access needs


Conservation and listing issues were dealt with pre-application; by demonstrating to the Planning Officer that no sightlines would be compromised by the installation and by bringing forth a design that was sympathetic to the surroundings and heritage of the park, the Officer was satisfied that the value of the installation outweighed any potential impact it may have on the Conservation Area.

The access issues, we realised, may become a sticking point, and we were forced to agree with concerns that the Officer raised  – our goal is not just to install a pod, it’s to maximise its utility and usefulness for the people it serves. Rather than attempt to force an application through that ignored these issues, we proactively worked with the Borough’s Planning Committee to come to a solution that satisfied both parties; namely that we would install bollards to shield the CPT from any wayward traffic and drop the kerb in front to ensure the installation would be accessible within 6 months of completion of works (turning a precondition of works into a post-condition clause in the process, and maintaining our 100% record of successful planning applications for our clients!)



It was a pleasure to work with Max and his team on what was an interesting set of challenges to install these two pods. We wish the London Borough of Bromley all the best in the rollout of the remaining projects in the scheme, and we very much look forward to working with them again in the future.

“RISE were really easy to work with,” said Max Graham, Regeneration Project Manager at the London Borough of Bromley. “I appreciated their commitment and flexibility to seeing these two builds through, particularly given the planning concerns due to Conservation status at Crystal Palace Park. I’d recommend them to anyone considering a Changing Places project.”

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To learn more about Changing Places, why not download our brochure or attend one of our monthly online seminars.

Call: 07729 224 738
08:00-18:00, Mon-Fri

To learn more about Changing Places, why not download our brochure or attend one of our monthly online seminars.

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