Archive for July, 2015

Accessible to all

Accessibility to the built environment and to open spaces available to the general public is something which has become enshrined in our laws wherever possible and practicable.

Buildings should be accessible to all – not just in order to comply with planning and building regulation requirements but for obvious social and commercial reasons.  A visit to the Government’s planning portal will show the updated, shortened on-line planning requirements.  The English planning requirements, for instance, state, in relation to design “Achieving good design is about creating places, buildings, or spaces that work well for everyone, look good, last well, and will adapt to the needs of future generations.”  Part M of the building regulations in England and Wales also has a 2015 edition.

Nevertheless, regardless of reasoning and modern requirements, it was felt that in constructing the built environment and in creating open spaces, more was required.  The then Minister for Communities, Stephen Williams, stated in February 2015

“Ensuring that the principles of inclusive design are fully integrated into construction industry practice is key to making our environment more inclusive and accessible for all.  We have seen significant improvements in design of the built environment over recent decades, but I believe that it is the initiative and leadership of the industry itself that will make the real difference.”

In consequence, a construction industry action plan was conceived and launched by the then coaltion Government.  It has brought together fourteen key organisations (including for instance the Design Council, English Heritage, RICS, RIBA and the National Register of Access Consultants) plus a network of others under the umbrella of the Construction Industry Council.

It will be interesting to see how this governmental initiative is taken forward.