What is the background to the beach access ramp?
This project stems from our commitment to improve access and inclusion for people with disability. We've had many conversations with our community about how we can improve access and inclusion in Wollongong. These conversations have informed our plans and strategies including our Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2020-2025, Beach and Foreshore Access Strategy 2019-2028 and Public Toilet Strategy 2019-2029. Improved access benefits the whole community, including those using wheelchairs or with prams, people with limited mobility and carers.
What is the proposal?
We're proposing to construct a concrete access ramp connecting the Austinmer beach promenade to the sand. The concrete ramp will be built to withstand the harsh coastal environment and changing sands and tides. We're currently undertaking geo-technical investigations to inform the final design. See the Consultation Plan for details.
Where is the proposed location?
The proposed location is just to the north of the existing wood boat ramp. This location was chosen as it's about halfway between the accessible parking and the Bathers Pavilion. As part of the Austinmer Bathers Pavilion upgrade we're currently installing an accessible toilet and change facility, including an adult lift and change table. See the Consultation Plan for location details.
Why are you proposing a ramp when there is beach matting available for wheelchair users?
While the beach matting currently enables wheelchair users, people with prams and people with limited mobility to access the beach, it will only work as long as the sand is fairly level with the carpark. The proposed ramp will provide a long-term solution, designed to withstand the harsh environment and changing sand levels.
Additionally, the existing wood boat ramp is not suitable for wheelchairs.
How will the ramp fit in with Austinmer beach's surroundings?
The ramp will blend in with the existing concrete retaining wall. This photo shows an example of a similar ramp.
Will the ramp provide access to the water or tidal rock pool?
No, the new beach access ramp will provide a continuous accessible path from the promenade to the sand, connecting to the beach matting. Access to the tidal rock pool has been investigated. However, it was found that providing a safe, non-slip and compliant access ramp to the tidal rock pool is not possible without impacting on the natural environment and available pool space.
When is the upgrade to the Austinmer Bathers Pavilion going to be finished?
Upgrade works at the Austinmer Bathers Pavilion are well underway and works are scheduled for completion by Christmas 2020. Works include a new accessible toilet and change facility, including an adult lift and change table. This will provide people with high support needs and their carers the space and equipment they need, allowing them to fully participate with their friends and family at the beach.
When is ramp construction planned and how long will it take?
At this stage the ramp is proposed to be built during the off-peak season in winter 2021. Construction is estimated to take approximately 2 months, with good weather and favourable site conditions.
Appropriate construction notifications will occur prior to the start of works.
How will construction impact beach goers?
Equipment and machinery will need to be set up on or near the promenade and at these times we are expecting the promenade to be closed to pedestrians. Please see the Consultation Plan to see the location of the proposed work site area.
We expect there to be construction noise at times.
Can I speak to someone about the proposal?
Absolutely! If you'd like to talk to us about the proposal please email the Engagement Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on: (02) 4227 7111 and we'll arrange a time to speak with you.
What happens next?
After the engagement period ends an engagement report will be written that outlines community feedback. The information provided in this report will inform the final plan. At this stage construction is planned for winter 2021. Appropriate construction notifications will be provided before any work starts.