CAMPAIGNERS have won an eight-month fight for better disabled toilets at an Oxfordshire park as original designs are changed following criticism.

More than 500 people signed a petition calling on Vale of White Horse District Council to think again about its initial designs for upgrading facilities in Abbey Meadows, which would have seen six toilets – divided into men and women’s blocks – replaced with four unisex individual cubicles.

Abbey Meadows Consultation Group, made up of concerned parents, presented the petition to the council in October calling for a ‘changing places’ facility in addition to the two disabled access cubicles already included.

Changing places are much larger than standard disabled toilets to give people more room.

The call was at first rejected by the council’s cabinet in February, with the authority citing budget restrictions and stating it had complied with statutory requirements by including two disabled toilets in the designs.

The authority has now said, however, the new toilet facilities will be 'significantly more accessible' with the revamped toilet block including a ‘Space to Change’ facility.

Seen as a halfway measure between a normal accessible toilet and a 'changing places' cubicle, it will include a wheelchair accessible toilet and a height adjustable adult-sized changing bench and hoist. The block will also include five self-contained unisex toilets and a men’s urinals and a baby changing space.

The council said to 'minimise disruption' to those enjoying the riverside park during the busy summer months the council plan to begin the £200,000 refurbishment work during September.

The renovation of the toilets later this year is part of the council’s major makeover of Abbey Meadows which has included a £320,000 revamp of the play area last June and the complete rebuilding of the outdoor pool, due to re-open next Saturday.

Following a public consultation in 2015 on the future of the park, it was agreed that it was a great place to spend time but that improvements could be made to make it more attractive to families. Members of the public also highlighted the need for it to have fully-accessible toilet facilities.

Alice Badcock, Cabinet member for community services, said: “These improvements are great news for people across the Vale, who come to swim, play and relax at Abbey Meadows.”

The councillor, who also sits on Abingdon Town Council, added: “It is the most-visited park in the district and now with all the changes we are making to the facilities to make it more accessible, it can be enjoyed by everyone for years to come.”

Responding to the announcement, Lib Dem group leader Emily Smith said: “I’m relieved that the new Cabinet member for leisure has finally signed off the new contract and that all our hard work will pay off.

“It has been a long drawn out process that could have been a lot more straight forward had the Vale Cabinet members listened to the campaign group and Lib Dem councillors back in 2017, but we got a positive outcome in the end.

“Huge thanks to the families involved in the campaign who have been lovely to work with and their knowledge and experience invaluable.”

Spurred on by the local campaign Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran put her support behind a cross-party drive in April to change planning regulations so all new buildings must include a larger 'changing places' toilet as standard.