Bayfair shopping centre, located in Mount Maunganui, retains top spot as one of the most accessible shopping centres in the country following several wins at the Tauranga City Accessibility Awards.
Continuing to lead the way in accessibility, the mall was awarded for having the most inclusive business practices in 2019/2020, as well as taking out the New Build-Commercial category 2019/2020 for its development.
One in four Kiwis have an accessibility need, meaning accessibility should be a major factor for all organisations. When it came to Bayfair’s three-stage $115 million development in late 2017, accessibility was a primary focus. The centre installed a fire evacuation visual alert system throughout the building, mount Braille way-finding signage across all amenities and updated the store directory to include Braille for people with hearing and visual impairments.
Other features include a second parents’ room, another set of mobility scooter charging stations, additional car parks for those with mobility permits, and an added dedicated accessibility pick up and drop off zone. Additionally, Bayfair has a video in sign language on its website to explain key information on facilities and centre directories, available in Chinese, Japanese and Maori.
Bayfair manager and leading accessibility advocate, Steve Ellingford, says the team pride themselves in thinking about the big picture when it comes to providing the best for the community.
“When the centre began to work on its environmental footprint to become a sustainable business more than a decade ago, the team realised that everything is connected: business, environment, community and people.
“Because of that, Bayfair is increasingly focused on creating spaces for business and the community that is fully accessible and inclusive.”
Catering to those with sensory processing and autism spectrum disorders, last year Bayfair opened a quiet room. Developed with guidance from Autism New Zealand, the room has been specifically designed for people who become easily overwhelmed in bright and busy environments. It can also be used as a space for those who experience anxiety, have panic attacks or who are temporarily feeling unwell and need to sit down in a calm space away from the hustle and bustle of the shopping centre.
“It is difficult for families affected by sensory processing and autism spectrum disorders to go to busy public places – in fear that they won’t be able to find somewhere suitable for their family and their needs,” says Ellingford.
“Our accessibility initiatives allow customers to continue their shopping.”
Following a recent initiative, Bayfair can also now be toured via Google Street View. AMP Capital has made three New Zealand centres, including Bayfair, virtually accessible so that customers can visit the centre remotely, enabling them to plan their trip before they visit or find what they need while in the centre.
The Google Street View will be particularly helpful for customers and accessibility needs such as limited vision or mobility, and those with babies or young children who want to plan their visit carefully.