A PRIVATE snooker club has been given the go ahead to move premises after it was ruled its new first floor location could not be made accessible to disabled people.

Plans to move the Mechanics Institute Snooker Club to the first floor of a building in Bondgate, Darlington, sparked objections from disability campaigners, Darlington Assocation on Disability (Dad), who said no effort had been made to see if disabled access was possible.

The deferred application was again considered by members of Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee, which heard that a number of access options had been considered by experts, but that they were either too expensive or not technically possible.

Dave Coates, the council’s planning officer, said agents for the club had spent ‘significant’ time examining different options for access and had spoken to several different providers of lifts and stairlifts.

He said: “The suppliers came back with a very simple message that it would be incredibly difficult to fit disabled access to the first floor without spending at least £50,000, which the organisation does not have.

“There’s a number of things that conspire to make it exceptionally difficult to get access for disabled people in this building.”

Mr Coates said officers had produced a report for Dad about why disabled access was not possible, which had been accepted by the organisation.

Dave Barker, of Prism Planning, the agent acting for the club, said they had worked hard to look at the different options for disabled access.

When asked by councillors why the club had chosen a first floor location when most of its members are elderly, Mr Barker said: “It’s the least worst option. It has significantly better access than their current building.

“The club would prefer a ground floor location, but council policy means that private members clubs cannot take over ground floor properties in the town centre.”

Mr Coates acknowledged that planning officers should have looked more carefully at the issues of disabled access at the location before bringing the application to the committee.

He pledged that in future applications, disabled access would be one of the first considerations looked at by officers.