- Disabled Parking
- Accessibility of building / attraction
- Comfort of facilities /chairs / ease of getting wheelchair at table, disabled toilets.
- Accessibility of all areas
- Ease of reaching products/pay terminals
- Helpfulness and understanding of staff
First to get the hot or not treatment is Notcutts garden centre, having visited there several times this year in my wheelchair.
- Disabled Parking, there are a number of disabled bays clearly marked on the left hand side immediately after entering their car park. In my experience however these are usually full. I wonder if there is a need for some additional spaces to be created. Their car park I would estimate holds well over 400 cars and the disabled parking represents less than 3% of the spaces. Given that the centre is so popular with users with blue badges I think this is not enough. Overflow parking is not really suitable for wheelchairs as it is grass and large shingle.
- Accessibility, Notcutts is all one level with no steps in or out of any of their buildings. There is a hot tub centre onsite, the office of which is inaccessible to a wheelchair as it has a small step to enter. This is their only let down. Most aisles are wide enough for mobility scooters to manouver although you would need to exercise concern in the outdoor plants and pets areas as they are very tight.
- Comfort of Facilities I have not seen nor used the disabled toilets so not sure how well to score them. Their cafe however is very wheelchair friendly with plenty of room to get all around.
- Accessibility of all areas with only a few areas of incline in their outside areas mainly around the sheds and camping equipment. Manoeuvrability in my wheelchair was excellent around all outside areas with minimum help required, although meeting trolleys around the plants there is an issue as one of you will have to back up. Notcutts is divided into key areas an aquarium where there is enough room for my wheelchair to comfortably to go round, however turning points are at a premium. The remainder of the shop is very easy to access with wide aisles and plenty of room in the cafe.
- Ease of reaching products/pay terminals If you are going to visit the garden centre I would say you need to phone a friend, I haven’t seen a wheelchair trolley there and a lot of the items are far too heavy to lift. With high shelves both inside and out around the plants, only a small selection of their products are available to reach.
- Helpfulness and understanding of staff Within the cafe the staff have always been very good, whether being in my wheelchair or on my crutches they always carry my drink and order to my table without asking and never appear put out doing so. It is difficult to comment a bout the rest of the shop as I always take somebody with me so they tend to be my arms and legs. The pay terminals used to be too high to reach to put in my pin number but now they have been made easier to use with longer cords to them. This said I have always had to pull the terminal down to me as opposed to having the terminal passed to me.
Summing up I would say that if you are looking for somewhere to meet for a catch up in the cafe you can’t go far wrong; shopping with a friend there is plenty of room to look around, but on your own purely because of the type of shop you will struggle.