HUME Bank has defended its decision to install a disabled access ramp outside its new premises at Yackandandah.
The institution has been criticised by some in the local community for spoiling the heritage facade of the 1929 State Savings Bank by erecting a ramp and rails.
“I think most people would like something that enhances the landscape rather than a trip hazard and an eyesore,” resident David Larkin said.
Hume Bank’s chief customer officer Andrew de Graaf said disability access was required under planning laws and the ramp under construction was the best solution.
“While I’m aware there’s been concern about the ramp, I’m also aware the broader community supports us in enabling people who need ramps, or are disabled, to access the branch,” he said.
Mr de Graaf added a mobile ramp “would have added a greater deal of complexity” and “with a small ramp the pitch would have been too high”.
Indigo mayor Bernard Gaffney noted it was not the only old building in the shire to have such a set-up.
“The Beechworth court house, which is definitely heritage-listed, has disabled access via a ramp (from its side),” Cr Gaffney said.
The new Yackandandah branch is due to open on Monday February 4.
It will replace an existing outlet further east in High Street.
Mr de Graaf said the chance late last year to lease the former State Savings Bank, which has been an antiques store and dress shop, proved enticing.
“It was literally serendipity, where the opportunity came up and the timing was right,” he said.
“We just went ‘let’s go for it and show our support to the community and reaffirm our commitment to the community’.”
About $40,000 is being spent on a makeover of the interior.
Double doors at the entrance will be removed and a niche created in the entryway to allow an ATM to be installed.
The doors will be rehung inside, while exterior signage will solely be a hanging board stating ‘Hume Bank’.