Olympic park toilets 'will not face Mecca'

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The Independent Online

Toilets which do not face the holy Islamic city of Mecca are among a raft of design principles announced today aimed at making London's Olympic Park the most inclusive and accessible so far.

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) want its procurement, design and construction framework - or Inclusive Design Strategy - to produce an ideal venue for people of all cultures, faiths, ages and accessible to disabled people for the 2012 Games and beyond.

ODA chairman John Armitt is confident that future generations will be left with London's "most accessible and inclusive public park and sporting venues" after the Games.

An ODA spokeswoman said "a percentage of general toilets will not face Mecca" out of sensitivity. The numbers have not yet been confirmed.

Special washing facilities linked to prayer rooms are also planned for the Park, set in multiculturally diverse east London.

The ODA hope it will set a new UK benchmark for wheelchair spaces and amenity seating.

Ramps at sports arenas are often too steep for wheelchair users so gentle slopes are being designed into the venue with wider pathways with smooth surfaces and seating and resting places at regular intervals.

Accessible toilet facilities including special areas where older disabled people can be helped to change by their carers, plus baby changing areas and buggy stores are also to be built-in.

The aim is for "the same exemplary accessibility standards" to be applied across the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and through into legacy so that the Park is welcoming and easy to use, according to the ODA.

Vice chairman of London Olympic Organising Committee's Sports Advisory Group and Paralympic champion Dame Tanni Grey-Thomson said: "London 2012 is aiming to go further than any previous host city to ensure that both the Olympic and Paralympic Games are accessible for everyone.

"After the Games, world-class sporting venues and the largest and most inclusive park in London will be left to help inspire a new generation of Olympic and Paralympic athletes."

London Mayor Boris Johnson welcomed the commitment to inclusive design saying "it is clear that accessibility must continue to be at the core of our work" in developing facilities in the Park.

He said: "I welcome the ODA's commitment to inclusive design and while I'm determined to provide taxpayer value from the 2012 budget, that commitment will not be compromised and remains a top priority for me as we prepare London to host the 2012 Games."

Input from a range of communities, multi-faith groups, disabled people and Paralympians was gained for the strategy.