FOUR special toilets and changing facilities for people with disabilities are to be opened in the city.

City of York Council has approved plans to develop the new facilities, called Changing Places, as part of a drive to become an "accessible city" for people with disabilities,.

The first Changing Places will open on Friday at the new Explore Centre in Acomb.

Further facilities will open in Walmgate, Silver Street and Hungate Civic Centre.

The news comes as York's infamous Splash Palace prepares to close its doors.

Bill Hodson, the council's director of housing and adult social services, said that suitable toileting and changing areas were needed throughout the city and the council was committed to delivering these for the people who needed them.

He said: "This is a very positive start in meeting people's very specific needs to help them access the city.

"Proper toileting facilities are extremely important and will help more people enjoy York's many amenities.

"It is our aim to have a Changing Places available within a ten-minute walk around the city centre."

Changing Places are toilet facilities for people whose needs are not met by a standard disabled toilet.

They include a tracking hoist system, a height adjustable changing bench and adequate space in the changing area for the disabled person and up to two carers. They also have a centrally placed toilet with room either side for the carers and a screen or curtain to allow the disabled person and carer some privacy.

Coun Sue Galloway, Liberal Democrat executive member for adult social services, said she was delighted that better disabled facilities were finally put in place.

She said: "It has been a long-held wish of mine that we could find a way to provide changing facilities for the disabled in York ever since a resident from Wallsend, Northumberland, wrote to me in 2005.

"At the time she said that she loved visiting York with her disabled daughter and would like to spend more time here but was unable to do so because of the lack of toileting and changing rooms. I shall now be writing to update her on our progress."

The decision comes after the planned demolition of the Splash Palace next year.

The building, at the south end of Parliament Street, opened amid a blaze of controversy in 1992 as part of a wider revamp of the city centre.

But it drew much criticism from locals and tourists, and the state of the toilets there has been a constant source of dismay.

The toilets are to be replaced by a new block which is to be provided in Silver Street, off Newgate Market.