The Puffin & Oyster at Le Grand Havre is insisting that a warm welcome awaits customers in wheelchairs after previously saying that they would be unable to access the refurbished pub and restaurant.
Responding to questions on social media last week, the island’s newest eatery apologised for not being wheelchair-friendly because of steps it has retained at the front of the building.
A few days later it suggested that the earlier statement was not fully accurate.
Pictured: A Facebook post from The Puffin & Oyster early last week.
The venue’s owner, Liberation Group, clarified the position to Express this morning.
"Anyone using a wheelchair will be able to access the site via mobile ramps and all staff have been trained and briefed on how best to support any customers with additional needs," said Liberation Group.
Pictured: The Puffin & Oyster said this morning that customers in wheelchairs are welcome.
The Puffin & Oyster's original claim that it would not provide access to wheelchairs provoked criticism, including of the States' Development & Planning Authority, which approved the refurbishment plans.
But the Authority told Express yesterday that it always does all it can to encourage unrestricted access to buildings within the island's existing planning laws.
"Speaking generally, during any planning stage, the Planning Service always seeks to make sure an applicant has thought about accessibility and how to make their premises as accessible as possible," said the Authority.
The Puffin & Oyster was previously the Houmet Tavern but had been closed for several years.
"Accessibility is controlled under part M of building regulations, but part M is not applicable to the refurbishment of an existing premises when the refurbishment does not involve an extension to the building and where it does not involve a change in use," said the Authority.
Pictured: Deputy Victoria Oliver, President of the Development & Planning Authority, which approved the planning application.
The planning application for The Puffin & Oyster included an access statement and committed to erecting a "raised decking area with ramped access".
The company has consistently said that its refurbishment complies with building regulations and was completed in line with the plans approved by the Authority.
Karen Blanchford, Partnership Director of the Guernsey Disability Alliance, told Express today: "In regards to accessibility at venues generally, we would always encourage a venue to build it into their plans from an early stage - it's financially better practice anyway - and ensure access is via the main entrance wherever possible without the need to request additional aids or assistance.
"Accessibility isn’t just good practice. It's about accessing the spending power of people affected by disability, which is worth over £274million in Guernsey - what we call the 'purple pound'.
"Access is wider than ramps and lifts and includes many other features, such as acoustics, lightening and signage. It's worth noting that Guernsey has more than 1,200 wheelchair users plus their family and friends. That is a significant portion of the population and the market for businesses."
Pictured: The Puffin & Oyster opened to the public last night.
The Liberation Group is promising "the very best, award-winning food and drink and excellent hospitality" following its latest extensive renovation of an iconic local pub and restaurant.
Express was at a preview event at The Puffin & Oyster on Tuesday evening. A gallery of images of the refurbishment is available HERE.
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