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access by design Autumn 2010 • Issue 124

Implementing the Building Regulations London Festival of Architecture Lifetime Homes update MyPlace Chesterfield

State-of-the-art insectarium. Heaving with creepy-crawlies. Total access, education and fun for all visitors. What can a Stannah platform lift do for you? Project: The BugWorld Experience. The UK’s first insectarium – a £3.8 million refurbishment in a Grade 1 listed former dockside warehouse. Location: Albert Dock, Liverpool. Lift: Midilift SL platform lift. Result: The only venue in Britain where thousands of budding scientists, adventurers and travellers can get up close and personal with insects in a fun and educational way – with the sales figures to prove it.

Call Stannah on 01264 339090 Meet the family

Passenger Escalators and Lifts Moving Walkways

Platform Lifts

Goods Lifts

Lift Refurbishment

Bespoke Lifts

Lift Service and repair

Welcome to your newlook Access by Design In this issue we look at two interesting access-based installations at the London Festival of Architecture, as well as the newly accessible MyPlace Chesterfield youth centre. Andrew Shipley from Habinteg Housing Association provides an insight into the revised Lifetime Homes Standard, while Heather Smith of the National Trust outlines new initiatives to improve access at Trust properties. We’ve also introduced some new features: a selection of innovative products, an access agony clinic and a series celebrating people in the access field. We hope you like the changes, and would be delighted to hear from you about what we should be including – so do please get in touch. Madeleine Gray Email:

The burning issue The winds of change may be breezing through equality legislation, with the Equality Act coming into force from 1 October, but for many people the issue of Part M of the Building Regulations remains a familiar concern. Campaigners argue that new buildings are still being constructed which simply aren’t accessible.

access by design 1

Autumn 2010 Issue 124 The journal of the Centre for Accessible Environments®

Welcome by Madeleine Gray

2 3 5

Newsdesk Publications and consultations Equality Act 2010 Brief guide to key changes


Access on show The London Festival of Architecture by Madeleine Gray, Tony Heaton, Matthew Lloyd and Steve Lowe

12 An education in equality Access within higher education by Vivien King and Mónica Grinfeld

16 Your place or mine? Chesterfield’s new creatively inclusive youth hub by Heather Fawbert, Peter Koyander and Derbyshire County Council

21 Building a Lifetime Homes Standard fit for the future by Andrew Shipley

23 A warmer welcome The National Trust’s access project by Dr Heather Smith

27 Implementing the Building Regulations by David Withington, Terry Warren and Melanie Smith

In August, Communities and Local Government requested feedback on the Building Regulations, asking stakeholders to identify changes to ensure they remain proportionate and fit-for-purpose. But perhaps even more critical than adapting the guidance, such as the Approved Document M, is the need for effective implementation. At a time when the cost of further regulation is unlikely to be accepted, what is the future of the Building Regulations?

33 Innovations

Don’t miss our special feature on what is complicating implementation of Part M on p27

Design by Steve Paveley 020 8940 7877 Typeset by Column Communications Ltd 020 8579 0436

Cover photo: Duke of York steps lift. Photo: ©Jonathan Short

Correction: In Access by Design issue 123 (Summer 2010) p13, the caption for the Makaton signing image is incorrect. It should have read: Graphics showing Makaton signing [left to right]: ‘dinner’, ‘man’, ‘doctor’, ‘to run’, ‘to telephone’ We apologise for the error and for any confusion caused.

New products in the access field

35 Access Agony clinic Your access problems solved

37 Access Champions by Liam and Tracey Proudlock Editor and advertising: Madeleine Gray Subscriptions: Helen Carter ISSN 0959-1591 Published four times a year: March, June, September, December

The views expressed in Access by Design are those of individual authors and not necessarily those of the Centre for Accessible Environments. All correspondence should be addressed to the editor. Subscriptions pre-paid, including postage, for four consecutive issues: UK £24; students and additional subscriptions to the same address £20. Overseas £36; students and additional subscriptions to the same address £32. Cheques made payable to Centre for Accessible Environments. © Centre for Accessible Environments®, 70 South Lambeth Road London SW8 1RL. Tel/Textphone 020 7840 0125 email:, website: Company Limited by Guarantee registered in England and Wales No 3112684 Registered Charity No 1050820

Issue 124 Access by Design



News Decentralisation and Localism Bill proposals announced The Coalition Government has announced plans for a Decentralisation and Localism Bill, which is intended to devolve more power to local authorities and to give local communities control over housing and planning decisions. The Bill outlined the following proposals: ● to abolish Home Improvement Packs ● to give decision-making powers on housing and planning to local councils ● to abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission, to be replaced with a system that provides a fast-track process for major infrastructure projects

to abolish the Standards Board, the independent body that oversees the investigation of complaints about elected members of local authorities ● to give councils a general power of competence ● to provide greater financial autonomy to local government and to community groups ● to allow the creation of new trusts that would make it simpler for communities to provide housing For further details, visit the Number 10 website 8 decentralisation-localism

Scottish Criminal Justice and Licensing Law passed with access amendment On 6 August 2010 , the Scottish Criminal Justice and Licensing Law received Royal Assent. This law includes an amendment which will require new pubs to demonstrate how accessible they are when they apply for a licence. The amendment follows a campaign by wheelchair user Mark Cooper for a comprehensive listing of pubs with accessible toilet facilities. Mr Cooper worked with Capability Scotland to raise awareness about his Barred! campaign nationally.


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To view the Act, visit the Scottish Parliament website 8 www.scottish.parliament. uk/s3/bills/24-CrimJustLc/index. htm

Regional Spatial Strategies abolished The Secretary for Communities and Local Government (CLG), Eric Pickles, has announced the abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies, excluding that in the London Plan. In place of these strategies, which set regional targets for construction, greater emphasis will be laid upon spatial plans prepared by local authorities in the form of Local Development Framework core strategies and Development Plan Documents. It is intended that these will be drawn up with the involvement of the local community, and future reform is planned to make it easier for local councils to agree and amend plans with local residents. Incentives Mr Pickles has also announced that councils will now receive incentives to support construction. These are intended to ensure that more housing is built locally, and that new jobs and investment opportunities are created. The Regional Strategies have been revoked through Section 79 (6) of the 2009 Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act, and the legal basis for Regional Strategies will be abolished through the Decentralisation and Localism Bill. For further information, visit the CLG website 8 CLG-regional


Publications and consultations It’s been a bumper season for publications, with changes to familiar standards, guidance on the forthcoming Equality Act and on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and interesting new reports jostling for attention. Look out also for consultations on the public sector Equality Duty and on changes to the Office for Disability Issues guidance for the Equality Act Revisions to BS for accessible building design: BS 8300:2009 + A1:2010 The British Standards Institution has made slight modifications to the best practice guidance BS 8300:2009 Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people. The revised document is called BS 8300:2009 + A1:2010. The changes include parking space dimensions, handrail dimensions and to the release force for panic exit devices. To order a copy of the new BS 8300, visit the BSI shop website 8 bs8300-2009-A1-2010 Revised Lifetime Homes Standard published The revised Lifetime Homes Standard has now been published, following a consultation period. The standard was reviewed to allow the Lifetime Homes criteria to be achieved more practically in meeting the requirements of the Code for Sustainable Homes. The revisions are also intended to facilitate the adoption of Lifetime Homes design as a requirement for all future publicly funded housing developments. To download the new Standard, visit the Lifetime Homes website


the Convention means in practice for disabled people, what the Convention says and how it can be used to bring about change. To download the guide, visit the EHRC website 8 www.equalityhumanrights. com/UNCRPDguide


EHRC publishes Equality Act non-statutory guidance The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published a series of guidance documents to help explain the Equality Act 2010 and provide practical examples illustrating how the law has changed. There are guidance documents for employers and workers, service providers and service users. These will not replace the statutory Codes of Practice for the Equality Act, which will shortly be laid before Parliament. To view the guidance, visit the EHRC website 8 non-statutory-guidance-publish EHRC publishes guide to the UN Convention The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published a guide to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The guide, entitled The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities: What does it mean for you?, sets out what

Mind the step: Report estimating accessible housing requirement Habinteg Housing Association and London South Bank University, supported by the Homes and Communities Agency, have published a research report named Mind the step: An estimation of housing need among wheelchair users in England. The publication examines a range of data on housing for wheelchair users. It estimates that 78,300 wheelchair -user households, or 13 per cent of all wheelchair-user households, are in housing need. The report identifies three solutions, which it says should be strategically interlinked, to help counteract the shortage of accessible housing: ● the development of new wheelchair standard homes for owner-occupiers and tenants ● support for home adaptations across tenures ● efficient allocation, in social housing, of accessible and adaptable homes It also provides guidance on how local authorities can provide estimates for unmet housing

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Publications and events need, and recommends using accessible housing registers to analyse housing stock. To download the report for free, or to order a hard copy, visit the Habinteg website 8 cfm?type=MINDTHESTEP PACTS releases new report on shared space This report, named Kerb your enthusiasm: Why shared space doesn’t always mean shared surfaces, and other stories, has been prepared by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS). It evaluates evidence around shared space and ways of integrating shared space schemes into the public realm. It suggests that a lack of substantial research and/ or definitive guidance as well as low numbers of practical examples create divergence in understanding. The report notes the controversy associated with design techniques such as the removal of kerbs, signage and crossing points, but focuses on the progressive beginnings of shared space and considers the usefulness of these in contributing to the public realm. It makes recommendations concerning the implementation of shared space schemes, and identifies hurdles which need to be addressed. To download the report, visit the PACTS website 8 php?id=44 Interim London Housing Design Guide published The London Development Agency (LDA) has published an


Access by Design Issue 124

interim version of the Mayor of London’s London Housing Design Guide, which will soon become a requirement for publicly funded homes. The guide aims to provide consistency and clarity about what is expected in London from the outset of a development, through a consolidated and simplified set of standards. The standards are anticipated to be taken forward through the Mayor’s forthcoming draft Housing Supplementary Planning Guide.

This interim edition follows a cost impact assessment and the public consultation on the draft London Housing Design Guide. It may be subject to further changes following the Examination in Public of the London Plan and the finalisation of the Homes and Communities Agency design standards review. To download the guide, visit the LDA website 8 interim-housing-design-guide

Equality Act 2010 consultations Public sector Equality Duty consultation The Government Equalities Office (GEO) is holding a consultation on the public sector Equality Duty. A crucial part of the Equality Act 2010, this duty is designed to help ensure that fairness is at the heart of public bodies’ work and that public services meet the needs of different groups. The Act also gives ministers the power to impose specific duties, which are legal requirements designed to help public bodies meet their obligations under the public sector Equality Duty. This consultation seeks views on proposals for draft regulations for the specific duties and the list of public bodies that will be subject to the general and specific duties. The closing date for this consultation is 10 November 2010. To respond to the consultation, visit the GEO website


uk/news/specific_duties_ consultation.aspx Consultation on guidance about definition of disability The legal definition of a disabled person in the Equality Act 2010 differs slightly from the definition used in the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) is updating the guidance to help people understand how the definition works to reflect this change. The ODI has published draft guidance along with a consultation document, and is seeking views on whether the draft guidance will help people understand the definition of disability. The consultation closes on 31 October 2010.

To respond to the consultation, visit the ODI website 8 uk/working/equality-bill.php

Equality Act

Equality Act 2010 Brief guide to key changes The Equality Act will begin to be implemented from October 2010. It aims to unify different pieces of equality legislation, to provide greater consistency and, in some areas, to strengthen provisions. The Act is structured around nine different ‘protected characteristics’, of which one is disability. It aims to prohibit discrimination, harassment and victimisation. This brief guide outlines some of the changes in relation to disability discrimination law Definition of disability This is essentially the same as the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in that it is a mental or physical impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on someone’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. However, it is no longer a requirement to show that the impairment affects a particular capacity, such as mobility, manual dexterity, or continence. This should make it easier for someone to show they meet the definition. ‘Substantial’ is now a defined term (‘more than minor or trivial’). There are three main types of disability discrimination under the Equality Act: Direct discrimination This occurs when, because of their disability, a disabled person receives worse treatment than somebody who does not have that disability. Under the DDA, direct discrimination only related to employment, although in practice the DDA did protect disabled service users from prejudicial discrimination. It now applies in the same way to goods and services. Discrimination by association: direct discrimination can also occur when a person receives worse treatment because of their association with someone who has a protected

characteristic, such as disability. Discrimination by perception: direct discrimination also includes discrimination because a person is thought to have a protected characteristic such as a disability when in fact they do not. Combined discrimination: a person may be able to claim for combined discrimination if they receive worse treatment because of a combination of two protected characteristics, such as disability and sex, although not two different impairments.

Indirect discrimination This occurs when there is a provision, criterion or practice, that is, a policy, rule or practice, which is applied to everyone, but which places people with a particular disability at a disadvantage compared with people who do not have that disability. It is not unlawful if it

can be justified, that is, it can be shown to be a proportionate way of achieving a legitimate aim. This is new and brings services into line with employment, but to a large extent it was already covered by the duty to make reasonable adjustments in the DDA.

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Equality Act Discrimination arising from disability This occurs when a disabled person is treated unfavourably not because of the disability itself but because of something connected with their disability. It is not unlawful if the treatment can be justified (see above) or if the service provider can show it did not know, or could not reasonably be expected to know, that the person was disabled. It replaces the previous disabilityrelated provisions which were effectively discredited in the Malcolm v Lewisham case.

It is different to indirect discrimination in that: ● there is no need to show that the person has been treated less favourably because of a provision, criterion or practice which is applied to other people ● there is no need for a comparator; that is, there is no need to compare the person who has been treated less favourably with somebody who is not disabled or someone with a different disability

There have also been some changes to the requirement to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people: Reasonable adjustments The duty to make reasonable adjustments has been unified for consistency although there are still some differences in the way it operates in different parts of the Act. For example, the duty is anticipatory for service providers and private clubs but not for employers. There is now one threshold for the duty, which is where disabled people experience a ‘substantial disadvantage’, instead of the different thresholds under the DDA, so there is no longer any reference to ‘impossible or unreasonably difficult’.

Act makes it clear that providing information in accessible formats is almost always a reasonable adjustment, and that this relates to policies as well as auxiliary aids. It also makes it clearer that the costs of reasonable adjustments cannot be passed onto the disabled person. While service providers could previously legally justify failing to provide a reasonable adjustment in certain circumstances, under the new legislation the only question is whether the adjustment is a reasonable one to make.

The requirements of the duty reflect the DDA duties but in a more consistent way. The Equality Harassment Disability harassment occurs when somebody is subjected to unwanted behaviour relating to disability which has the intention or effect of violating their dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. It includes harassment because of a person’s association

with someone who has a protected characteristic, or because they are wrongly perceived to have a protected characteristic. The DDA provided for harassment at work but the new Act also protects disabled people accessing goods and services.

Victimisation Victimisation occurs when somebody is treated badly for making a complaint under the Act, or helping somebody else to do so, or because they are thought to have done or be doing these things. Unlike previously, the victim does not

have to show that they have been treated less favourably than someone who has not made or supported a complaint, just that they have been treated badly.

Further information Government Equalities Office: 8 Equality and Human Rights Commission: 8 6

Access by Design Issue 124

Festival of Architecture

Access on show The London Festival of Architecture took place in June and July of this year. Among the installations were two with access as their focus: a solar energy water-powered lift at the Duke of York steps, and an exhibition on making London’s buildings accessible at City Hall. Madeleine Gray, Editor of Access by Design, visited the festival to see these thoughtprovoking contributions

Duke of York steps lift by Madeleine Gray, Tony Heaton, Chief Executive of Shape and Matthew Lloyd, Director of Matthew Lloyd Architects The lift installation at the Duke of York steps was exhibited for two weeks during the London Festival of Architecture. Hailed by its designer Matthew Lloyd as probably the world’s ‘first solar energy water-powered lift’, the installation, which was the result of a concept developed between Matthew Lloyd Architects, the disabilityled arts organisations Shape and Architecture Inside Out, the Royal Engineers and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), was intended to address and highlight issues around access at the steps.

the top tank into the counterweight tanks which drop downwards, forcing the lift car into the up position. Pulling the second chain empties the counterweights into two bottom tanks so that the lift moves downwards. A solar-powered 800W pump pushes water back to the top again. Should the lift be installed permanently, these chains could be replaced by buttons; this would hopefully alleviate one of the teething problems of the prototype, where one of the chains was located at an inaccessible height. The project came about when Matthew Lloyd approached Architecture Inside Out, a group of disabled artists who had previously staged creative events at the Tate Modern, London, and The Lightbox, Woking, as reported in Access by Design issue 119 (Summer 2009). Together, they talked to the Director of the London Festival of Architecture about their plans for the installation.

© Matthew Lloyd Architects

The original intention was to build a series of three lifts to provide access from the top set of steps to the bottom; but, as this was impossible for the exhibition due to time and budget constraints, a single lift took users from the top to the middle section of the steps and back. However, were this ever to become a permanent installation the series of three lifts would be employed, allowing step-free access across the full series of steps.

The design The lift is covered by transparent Perspex panels, making its workings fully visible. A bridge leads from the steps to the entrance gates. Once inside the lift, in a playful gesture, two ‘toilet’-style chains are used to operate it. Pulling the first chain releases a valve, causing water to fall from

Plan showing the lift’s workings

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Getting a lift: (left) a cyclist ponders the impressive structure; (right) Whizz Matthew Lloyd Kidz ambassador Karl Woods celebrates the lift’s opening describes the Duke of York steps as ‘perhaps the most important set of historic steps in the country’; undoubtedly, due to their strategic location between Buckingham Palace and Whitehall, they are constantly pounded by powerful feet, as well as being a photogenic magnet for the crowds of tourists constantly streaming past. The lift certainly gained the public’s attention: a striking spectacle wrought from Perspex, aluminium needs to be fully functioning to fulfil its purpose, and steel, from the bottom of the steps it almost but this demonstrates that it can be so with style looked absurdly situated in a limbo with steps and elegance. above and below, while the fish tank-style water troughs, complete with a bed of stones, added to The way that the public have engaged with this its quirky appeal. Such was the spectacle as the lift suggests that they are not used to seeing waterfall caused the lift to rise that when Shape’s anything like this, and it provokes fascination, Chief Executive Tony Heaton emerged from the drawing spectators like bees around a honey pot. lift on one occasion, a group of visiting teenagers Creating a lift which doubles as a piece of theatre burst into applause. is of benefit to disabled people, who very often are unintended performers; this shifts the focus Here, Matthew Lloyd and Tony Heaton explain from the person to the machine. why the installation was created, and what impact they would like it to have. Placing the lift slap bang in the middle of the Tony Heaton, Chief Executive of Shape steps was deliberate: not only did it please Matthew Lloyd’s architectural logic in maintaining ‘Zoe Partington-Sollinger, a director of the symmetry and allowing the usual flow of Architecture Inside Out, invited me to join this pedestrians at either side of the steps, but it also project, so that, as a practising disabled artist, gives access a central focus, putting disabled I could contribute my sculptural skill and access people at the centre. Too often disabled people knowledge. I like a challenge, and this seemed a are forced to slink in the back way, but this challenging project. The lift is different because presents a solution which is impossible to ignore. it is fun: it does not look like a medicalised piece of kit for disabled people, unlike most As an architect, Matthew obviously wanted wheelchair lifts. Usually it seems as though to create an architectural event, but he was designers associate disability with illness out of concerned that this might miss the point of ignorance, and this comes across in the design. As making the steps more accessible. Being an it is a prototype, improvements could obviously unreconstructed modernist, my view is that form be made; but this is an interesting solution to an follows function: if the lift performs the task it access problem and, crucially, it draws attention to was intended to, it will be an object of beauty. the lift rather than to the person. Clearly the lift I also think that the lift is for everybody to use,


Access by Design Issue 124

© Jonathan Short

Festival of Architecture

Festival of Architecture and if it were to become a tourist attraction, that would be great – as long as wheelchair users did not have to wait at the back of a long queue to use it. The lift could form a really attractive addition to London’s access solutions.

neutrality: with the water providing the power, all that is required is a small electric motor. Britishdesigned, and constructed entirely in London, the lift has a wide application that I hope more people will be able to take advantage of in future.’

The low-energy and carbon-neutral aspects of the lift are also vitally important; we should all be aiming at carbon neutrality. Certainly, shrewdly capitalising on the sustainability of the lift and the fact that it presents a solution to wheelchair access acted in our favour in requesting permission to set this up. However, I don’t think that this is a bad thing; on the contrary, these factors and the temporary nature of the exhibition allowed us to subversively sneak the lift in. The authorities may have expected howls of public protest at a lift desecrating these sacred steps, but instead there has been nothing but positive feedback, and people have thought that access should be provided to this main thoroughfare. I would recommend scouring London for sites where the lift could be allocated time and some space, setting it up and seeing what happens.’

1 City, Many People: Inclusive design exhibition Bridging the access gap: The background to 1 City, Many People by Steve Lowe, Seedgen Ltd The original intention for this exhibition, which took place at City Hall from 28 June to 30 July 2010, had been to explore access problems between Tower Bridge and the Thames Path and to suggest solutions as to how these could be resolved. However, following consultation with different stakeholders and a tragic death, the original idea, named 1 Bridge, Many People, evolved into 1 City, Many People.

‘For me, a key point about this project is that it was a genuine collaboration between architects and disabled people. Rather than an architectural polemic, it is a highly functional machine which was built to solve a physical problem on a major site. The location is unparalleled in its historic status: with Grade I listing, it has the highest level of historical protection and Royal Parks, which kindly granted permission for the installation, were naturally insistent that this be respected. Our solution was to avoid bolting the lift down, so that it sits freestanding on the steps, with a bridge that cantilevers out from the main structure. The small 800W water pump is powered by solar energy, and as the lift is constructed from steel, Perspex and aluminium it is entirely recyclable. Furthermore, the whole structure can be dismantled and removed by crane in half a day.

A discussion paper for the original exhibition was circulated in January, identifying the issues and plotting a roadmap that could see them at least partly resolved by 2012. The document referred to studies previously commissioned by the local authorities concerned, which had proposed a step-free link between the southeast pavement and Shad Thames. It went on to consider the link between the southwest pavement and the Thames Path. This is a far busier route and there is no way of linking it to the east pavement with a pedestrian crossing: the Port of London Authority will not allow impediments to traffic flows on the bridge, in case it has to be opened for a river emergency. Two solutions were considered: the less costly was a stand-alone lift; however, this would pose aesthetic problems, as views of Tower Bridge from the west would be compromised. The alternative was for a more ambitious architectural addition: a horizontal walkway, perpendicular to the pavement, leading to an appropriately elegant link bridge cut through the parapet. This could then be serviced by two lifts plus additional stairs, so as to greatly increase capacity.

The lift provides a safe, slow, calm ride, allowing access particularly for wheelchair users, people with buggies, cyclists and older people. For me, the splashing of water as it rises and falls calms the spirits, but more important is its carbon

One person who strongly endorsed the proposals was David Morris, the former External Inclusion Manager at the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games. With no budget of his own. David was tasked with helping to improve

Matthew Lloyd, Director, Matthew Lloyd Architects

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Festival of Architecture access in the public realm. A wheelchair user, David had visited the Acropolis in Athens and part of the Great Wall of China courtesy of access improvements before the 2004 and 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He suggested making the River Thames the ‘Great Wall’ for London 2012, by creating an accessible ‘Paralympic superhighway’. As part of this, he had been trying to raise £40,000 to fund a scoping study to pinpoint possible access improvements along the Thames Path. In response to the Tower Bridge discussion paper, David produced a document called Turning towards the river: London’s Great Wall – the River Walk. This again called for London 2012 to be an ‘inclusive Games’, referring to Beijing’s efforts to improve inclusion, such as a total of $62 million US dollars spent on city-wide access, the installation of 132,633 km of tactile paving and dropped kerbs at 21,150 intersections, and 12,000 museum staff being trained in sign language. The 1 Bridge, Many People proposals and David’s paper had started to have an impact, with the confirmation that the many authorities involved with Tower Bridge would convene to review the situation in July. However, tragically, David died in April. Following his sudden death, the focus of the exhibition shifted to general access improvements. This was to wait for the outcome of the discussions around access, to acknowledge David’s wider vision for an accessible Thames riverside, and to synthesise material from contributors into a coherent whole. The resulting exhibition comprised three main sections:

1 case studies showing how it is possible to

retrofit improved accessibility into even highly sensitive buildings 2 case studies showing how London’s buildings

have become increasingly accessible over the last 20 years 3 a look to the future, which suggested that the major challenges ahead were in the public realm, and referred to David’s vision for an accessible Thames walkway, highlighting proposals for a ‘London Promenade’ As the exhibition came to an end, it emerged that a Mayoral team pulling together various authorities connected with Tower Bridge had convened in July, and it now seems probable that at least some access improvements will be put in place by 2012. In addition, the London Assembly’s Transport Committee is to consider the London Promenade proposal to widen the Thames Path as part of a wider investigation into walking.

“The river walk is a great pedestrian thoroughfare and enhanced access will leave a legacy for generations.” Turning towards the river

Inclusive design displayed at City Hall by Madeleine Gray Independent consultant Steve Lowe approached CAE towards the end of last year, asking if we could provide any examples of access improvements to historic buildings. As readers will be aware, we were able to draw upon a wealth of case studies from Access by Design, as well as from the excellent Museums and Art Galleries by Adrian Cave. Steve worked indefatigably to curate an impressive exhibition tackling the sensitive issue of retrofitting listed

Graphics providers Four Graphics setting up 1 City, Many People at City Hall 10

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Festival of Architecture

(left to right) Tony Pincham, Antonia Faust, Ian Kiloh, Steve Lowe, Michael Davis, Richard Barnes, Madeleine Gray and Emile Melki at the exhibition. Inset: Deputy Richard Barnes admires striking images of St Paul’s where access improvements are ongoing

buildings, managing to secure the publicly open lobby gallery at City Hall as a venue. At the suggestion of CAE’s Chief Executive Kevin Davis, the panorama viewed from City Hall’s floor-toceiling windows became the starting point for the buildings featured in the exhibition. Steve had also managed to secure the input for the exhibition free of charge from some extraordinarily generous individuals. Among these were: ●

photographer Tony Pincham of Images for Industry, who provided the stunning panoramic photograph which formed the centrepiece of the exhibition

Emile Melki of Four Graphics, who produced the graphics and organised the set up and tear down of the exhibition

Antonia Faust, Projects and Events Manager at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), who had provided RIBA’s inclusive design videos which were played on a loop during the exhibition

Ian Kiloh and Lisa King of Sellar Design and Development, who gave in-kind sponsorship in the form of graphic design and layout services

Michael Davis of Thames Promenade, who provided content for the London Promenade exhibits

Stirring images of the Roundhouse, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Royal Exchange indicated the possibility, and the importance, of improving accessibility to architectural treasures; while references to modern developments like the Shard highlighted the need for ever-improving design standards in future. The London Promenade also provided one intriguing solution to the problem of access by the Thames. The exhibition was visited by Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes, whose remit covers accessibility. Admiring the images, the Deputy Mayor commended the work undertaken while acknowledging the need to constantly improve access in a city into whose skyline new buildings are constantly crowding. To support the exhibition, Steve launched a website named This holds information about the exhibition and its background, details of all the case studies featured, and a tribute to David Morris; and it has the potential to be developed further into an interactive access resource. ● For more information, visit the Better Access website 8

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An education in equality Access within higher education Higher education institutions have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to allow disabled students and visitors to access their services; yet many remain inaccessible. With a new academic year about to begin, Vivien King and Mónica Grinfeld explore the implications of access at university and ask how what is reasonable can be determined in a higher education setting The legal framework Part IV of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) enforced upon education providers the duty to make adjustments, interpreted as ‘reasonable’ for the purposes of the legislation, to integrate disabled people. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA) widened the non-discriminatory provisions of the legislation to include higher education. A later revision, the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, consolidated and extended the duties of bodies responsible for education and other related services contained in Part IV of the Act; these were further clarified and expanded by the Disability Discrimination Act (Amendment) (Further and Higher Education) Regulations 2006. This proactive legislation set a framework for good practice by requiring that higher education institutions treat disabled students, visitors and staff no less favourably than their non-disabled peers, and that reasonable adjustments be put in place to aid such users. The successor to the DDA, the Equality Act 2010, was pushed through its final parliamentary stages in April. Although the outgoing Government intended to begin implementing this Act on 1 October 2010, at the time of writing the Codes of Practice had still not been published; however, the current Government has stated its intention to initiate the core provisions of the Act in October. Part VI relates to education: Chapter 1 concentrates on schools and Chapter 2 on further and higher education. Within the latter context, the admission and general treatment of disabled students, the recreational and training facilities


Access by Design Issue 124

offered to them and the premises from which the university or college operates all have to be considered. Although the relevant Code of Practice is not due for publication until 2011, the provisions of the legislation follow closely the principles established by the DDA, and the duties of service providers remain largely unchanged. Governing bodies are legally responsible for ensuring their institution’s compliance with equality law. This encompasses individual rights for staff and students, as well as the proactive ‘public sector duties’ that apply specifically to higher education institutions. There must be no discrimination exhibited by the appropriate governing body, be it a local authority, educational authority or board of governors. It has statutory duties to make reasonable adjustments to its admission policies, the courses offered, its facilities and accommodation, among other things. A college or university may offer services to the public in addition to services exclusively for students. For instance, it might allow its premises to be used for exhibition purposes or its library, theatre or sporting facilities to be used by the wider public. In such cases, the governing body will be a service provider within the definition of the Equality Act. It will also be an employer, might manage property or even operate a private club from its premises. Each role will impose upon the governing body additional and at times differing duties and, because of the extensive procedural requirements of the legislation, there is always a danger that issues of equality turn into exercises in bureaucracy. Clearly, then, access

Legislation professionals must be aware of precisely what is required from, and offered by, the college or university to be able to advise appropriately. This article highlights some of the particular problems faced by a governing body for any higher educational institution. As always, it should be remembered that the particular facts and circumstances of each case will be different. The requirements of one student or the access difficulties caused by one particular course, or from one built environment, might not be universally applicable. Access consultants must be willing to be flexible and practical when offering advice, especially against a background of increasingly tightened economic circumstances.

Events, escape and external premises Higher education institutions often benefit from comprehensive advice on the need to provide alternative access, with consultants recommending imaginative, well thought-out solutions. However, it is vital that all procedures associated with the educational processes are considered, as failure to do so can lead to conflictive situations that may result in legal disputes. An example of this may be found in one of the very few reported cases involving a higher education institution, Potter v Canterbury Christ Church University (2007). Craig Potter, a wheelchair user, graduated in 2004 at a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral. While other students received a handshake on the dais from the Chairman of the Governors, Mr Potter had to be content with a greeting at the bottom of the steps instead because no ramp was provided to allow access to the stage. Mr Potter was awarded the sum of £4,000 for injury to feelings as a

result of the university being negligent in the implementation of reasonable adjustments. In addition, the university was held liable for interest on that amount, close to £3,000, and the legal costs for both parties, not an inconsiderable sum for a largely publicly funded institution. The graduation practices of the institution constituted a regular event with clearly defined and repetitive procedures. Had this been carefully considered, it would have been possible to devise a solution which would not permanently alter the character of the historic cathedral, but that would have allowed the institution to meet its anticipatory duty to remove disabling features, particularly as Mr Potter had expressed that an alternative provision would not be acceptable. Other examples that emerge through careful examination of procedures rather than just surveying the physical environment may lead to the modification of many areas. These include: ●● ●● ●●

little-used escape routes to be accessed only in case of emergency refuges for people with mobility impairments access provisions of placement providers, study abroad arrangements, and all events and activities that may require students to access premises other than those of their ‘home’ institution as part of their course of studies, which are often forgotten. Precedent indicates (Keith Roads v Central Trains (2004)) that in instances of shared responsibility, both direct and indirect service providers have been deemed at fault so it is not acceptable for the ‘home’ institution to assume that accessibility would be the responsibility of the direct service provider

Common problems with the built environment in higher education facility buildings include (left) long narrow classrooms and (right) steep internal ramps

Issue 124 Access by Design


Legislation Physical environment issues The physical environment has a major influence on the experience of students and staff members and on the reputation of an institution. However, there are fundamental complications in the feasibility of developing a universally acceptable environment for teaching and learning. This can be aggravated by the difficulty in achieving consensus regarding the level of service required to meet different access requirements. Clearly, the ultimate aim of the legislation is to allow independent access to services. However, individual circumstances may cause one governing body to consider it reasonable to provide a bell at the entrance of a university building for visitors to alert staff, while another may only consider it reasonable if there is unaided access. It is helpful to develop some institutional guidance, including an access statement, to attempt to approach at least a basic common approach to accessibility.

Engaging experienced and accredited access consultants to assess the physical environment helps higher education institutions to identify and prioritise the work needed to make buildings accessible to disabled users. Another method which contributes to improving quality and user satisfaction results is the involvement of service users who work or study regularly in the buildings, and who are familiar with their design and uses. While it may not always be possible to satisfy everyone during this process, the exercise is useful to minimise the occurrence of common problems which are immediately obvious to disabled users. Examples of these include: ●●

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In November 2009, the Equality Challenge Unit released a publication named Managing inclusive building design for higher education. This highlights interior design details which offer opportunities for improvement, such as the choice of paint colours when repainting a corridor, which impacts on the experience of many visually impaired people. The guidance also identifies common barriers, including inaccessible or inappropriate main campus buildings, circulation areas, accommodation, social spaces and amenities, and poor teaching and learning environments. It advocates an inclusive design approach which exceeds the basic requirements imposed by regulations applicable to buildings, aiming to enable the environment to be used by everyone without the need for much individual customisation.


long narrow classrooms with restricted visibility of the presentation area that often require visually impaired students to sit at the front of the room internal access ramps that are too steep and too narrow for comfortable use rooms with fixed sitting arrangements and insufficient space to accommodate wheelchair users or people with mobility impairments provision of only right-hand transfer accessible WCs, when more than one accessible WC is provided

The University of Salford carried out a programme of improvements where, as part of their userparticipation strategy, the Estates Department worked with the Equality and Diversity Office to create a network of access representatives to cover all the non-residential buildings across the institution. While there was initially concern that the process could become protracted and cumbersome, it must be remembered that any additional time spent on consultation may be balanced against the likelihood of improved

Other problems include (left) rooms with fixed seating and little circulation space and (right) righthand transfer only accessible WCs


Access by Design Issue 124

Legislation quality and user satisfaction results. Similarly, the financial benefit of getting it right first time, and therefore minimising the need for retrospective changes, by involving users early in the process should not be underestimated.

Making adjustments within student accommodation One case, which was subsequently settled out of court, refers to a claim made by a student suffering from Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mental health condition resulting in panic attacks. The student requested accommodation on campus and not on the ground floor, to avoid the distress caused by loud noise. The university, unnamed for legal reasons, initially agreed but subsequently offered a place off campus as their upper floor units on campus had already been let. This was deemed unsuitable, resulting in the student missing a full academic year of studies. The former Disability Rights Commission agreed to support the case as it was the first claim made to a County Court under Part IV of the DDA, and as it was a case that was being pursued by the university very aggressively through their legal advisers, by putting pressure on the student to withdraw the claim. In this instance the university was aware that the request for alternative accommodation

was made on the grounds of disability, but the full particulars of the condition and the relevance of the type of accommodation were not volunteered by the student and not fully investigated by the service provider. This lack of awareness of the physical symptomatic manifestations of mental health is not unusual as the Chief Executive of the Royal Association for Disability Rights, Liz Sayce, has explained:

“Mental health service users experience ‘diagnostic overshadowing’; that is, physical health problems being viewed as part of the mental health problem and not fully explored or treated.” The case was settled before the hearing: arrangements were made by the university for the provision of suitable accommodation at a much-reduced rate and a payment of £2,500 in compensation for injured feelings. Despite the fundamental differences between this case and the Potter case previously referenced, the rising cause appears to be the service provider’s interpretation of what constitutes a reasonable adjustment. Accommodation which is made available to students through the higher education institution remains the responsibility of that institution, and all applicable legislation relating to the service provided applies to it.

Commentary Higher education institutions therefore need greater awareness of access requirements in a wide variety of situations, and of what might constitute a ‘reasonable adjustment’ in such instances. This would clearly help to ensure adequate provision for all, including those service users with unseen and sometimes little understood conditions. In addition, access professionals advising higher education institutions need a thorough understanding of accessibility within the diverse framework of higher education to provide appropriate recommendations. A key factor in identifying the scope of

acceptable access parameters is the developing stock of case law, as well as the attitudinal changes of service providers caused by gradually increasing awareness of the implications of diversity and integration in modern society. However, settlements out of court are common in disabilityrelated cases where there is a potential for serious reputational damage for the service provider. The ethics of this process are questionable, as are the benefits to society in general, since it deprives both the general public and specialist advisers from the knowledge of the considerations on which decisions are taken. ●

Vivien King is a consultant to law firm Bond Pearce LLP and to building surveyors Malcolm Hollis. Mónica Grinfeld is a senior lecturer in the School of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of Westminster

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Building study

Councillor Andrew Lewer cuts the ribbon before assembled guests to mark the opening of MyPlace Chesterfield

Your place or mine? Chesterfield’s new creatively inclusive youth hub Take a youth arts centre with a bit of spare land, add some dedicated professionals and the decisive input of local young people, and what do you get? The Chesterfield MyPlace youth complex comprises a newly built centre for disabled young people’s organisation Fairplay and a refurbished arts facility for 11 to 19-year-olds in Derbyshire. Fairplay manager Heather Fawbert, architects Peter Koyander and Frank Shaw and Derbyshire County Council all played their part in this intriguing story In 2008, the Donut Creative Arts Studio, a facility for young people, occupied a building previously inhabited by a youth centre, with disused tennis courts to one side. At the same time, Heather Fawbert, manager of Fairplay, a charity working to improve opportunities for disabled children and young people in North Derbyshire, was looking for a base. ‘Fairplay provides services such as playschemes, youth projects, a parent support group and a home-based support service,’ explained Heather, ‘but until recently


Access by Design Issue 124

we did not have a home.’ Heather had applied for funding from the government MyPlace grant, which financed youth centre construction projects, and was delighted to receive approval to proceed to a fast-track application. Spotting an opportunity in the land next to the Donut centre, she approached Derbyshire County Council, who agreed a lease. At this point the newly formed ‘partnership’ of Fairplay and Derbyshire County Council explored

Building study expanding the MyPlace bid to include substantial refurbishment of the Donut centre. The response was positive: they were informed that this would substantially strengthen the application, and the resulting facility would be welcomed as a possible centre of excellence. A joint funding application with Fairplay as lead organisation was submitted in July 2008, and MyPlace grant approval was received in November 2008 on condition that the scheme be completed by the end of 2009. With such a short timescale, detailed design work began immediately, the scheme was tendered and in July 2009 approval was granted to start on site. Following eight months of construction, the scheme was completed in April 2010, the whole process taking 17 months from inception to completion.

Levelling the playing field: The Fairplay Centre The main purpose of the Fairplay Centre was to provide an inclusive environment where young people could come together and take part in stimulating activities. In addition, the new building had to accommodate Fairplay staff and provide meeting/training rooms which could be let out when not in use, a versatility which would contribute to the building’s sustainability. Consultation was crucial, as in the sister project of refurbishing the Donut centre. Heather said: ‘The children and young people were asked what activities the building should offer and what colours and designs should be

The garden outside Fairplay features accessible planters filled with vivid colours, scents and textures

The Fairplay Centre’s sensory corridor features a bubble tube used. They met with the architect on several occasions, and made several visits to the site during the building process.’ Fairplay staff also had their say, being ‘asked to consider what difficulties they had previously encountered in using other buildings to provide services’. This consultation process had a tangible impact on the building layout, as architect Peter Koyander explained: ‘The building had to be safe and secure for the young people using it without looking institutionalised; they wanted it to be “modern” and “trendy”.’ Colours were chosen to provide adequate visual contrast, while the signage incorporates symbols to aid wayfinding, particularly for young people with learning disabilities. A Changing Places facility was installed, which can accommodate two members of staff and a wheelchair user at a time, and the kitchen has wheelchair accessible fittings. Another particularly exciting feature is the sensory corridor, featuring a bubble tube and a waterfall, as well as sensory tiles which change colour when you walk on them. There is also a sensory room with a heated water bed and images projected onto the wall. The design throughout the building intends to promote wellbeing, using, as Peter noted, ‘natural lighting and the flow of spaces to create an uplifting feel’. A ramp leads outside the building to the accessible sensory garden, featuring planters at a lower height, and plants with distinctive scents and textures and brightly coloured flowers,

Issue 124 Access by Design


Building study aiming to provide a place of tranquillity. The space outside the building has a specialised play surface, particularly useful for some children with mobility impairments, who may drop to the floor on their knees. Plans are also afoot, said Heather, ‘to develop a neighbouring site for a fully accessible activity garden’, in partnership with Sheffield University. Sustainability has also been incorporated into the design: the centre has a rainwater harvesting system, an air source heat pump, and photovoltaic cells on the roof.

The icing on the cake: Remoulding the Donut As for the neighbouring Donut Creative Arts Studio, the opportunity to comprehensively refurbish the building was seized by Derbyshire County Council. The aim was to provide a highquality centre which would facilitate a wide range of activities for local young people. Liz Ewbank, Project Manager in Corporate Property, outlined the four outcomes which the refurbishment was intended to achieve: ●●




to create an exciting but safe place for young people to go in their leisure time, where a range of creative arts activities take place to enable more young people, particularly those who are most disadvantaged, to participate in positive activities which support their personal and social development to offer more young people access to information, advice and support services within a setting in which they feel comfortable to form a partnership with the new Fairplay centre to plan, deliver and operate a campus youth facility with and for young people

The council wanted to maximise the inspirational potential and the contribution to quality of life of both the building and its external environment. The design needed to create a place which was healthy, safe and motivational for its users, while being comfortable for staff. The brief required the designers to follow the following principles of inclusive, sustainable development: ●●



reflect diversity by catering for the needs of ethnic minorities, vulnerable groups and disabled people create internal environments that are comfortable, convenient, and suitable for their intended purpose

Access by Design Issue 124

The Donut Centre has been completely refurbished


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include features that enhance the health and wellbeing of constructors, building users and the wider community maximise occupants’ control of their environment use environmental good practice in the design and selection of good-quality sustainable building materials incorporate the use of low-energy fittings and appliances aim to use locally sourced materials and labour

The challenge for the design team, according to Liz Ewbank, stemmed from the constraints of an existing building, needing to create ‘multifunctional performance spaces within the existing structure to achieve a modern, seamless finish’. Derbyshire County Council contracted Frank Shaw Associates to undertake the refurbishment project. An important component of the design process was the involvement of young people: as with Fairplay, the Donut centre’s proactive manager, Dan White, was keen to engage the centre users. The architects organised a series of workshops, and design proposals

Building study were developed from the initial consultations. According to Dan, the concepts produced ‘met the requirements of the young people while achieving a great quality of workmanship’. The centre users were further consulted on finishes, fittings, fixtures, colours and so on. A studio development group of young people was formed, who prepared a list of equipment best suited to the activities in which they wanted to get involved. They even had input into which company to use, after the specification had been put out to tender.

‘“Always ask, are we going to be accessible? Is everyone going to be comfortable? Work from that baseline right from the start.”’ The resulting facility now includes rehearsal rooms, an industry-standard recording studio and a multimedia suite, which features green screen facilities and is used for filmmaking, producing music videos and animation, among other things. The centre also plans to launch its own internetbased radio station in the near future. One of the most popular areas, according to Dan, is the Green Room, where young people can socialise while using the internet and drinking coffee. Previous attempts to improve the accessibility of the centre had been made: a platform lift, for example, had been installed to allow access to the public areas. However, a great deal of

work was required to bring it up to current building standards. Louise Machin, Access Officer at Derbyshire County Council, checked all the architect’s design proposals to ensure that they would provide an inclusive environment. One of the biggest challenges was to overcome a change in level between the existing Donut centre and the new Fairplay building; this was achieved by installing a linked ramp. All the external doors to the Donut were replaced by automated versions, and door opening widths were increased throughout the building. Louise highlighted another access conundrum specific to this type of facility: heavy soundproofed doors. Here, the architect’s solution was to provide assisted ‘pushand-go’ openers to the doors, allowing them to be accessible while keeping the sound in. There are now accessible toilets on all three levels of the centre; the one on the ground floor is combined with an accessible shower. The existing platform lift was retained and refurbished, and a new platform lift has been installed to allow step-free access to areas for staff as well as the public. Handrails and nosings have been replaced on existing staircases, and induction loops have been provided in the performance hall, meeting room and at the reception point. For Louise, the pièce de resistance is the kitchen: ‘We were particularly pleased with the accessible refreshment facilities, where a lower-level worksurface in a contemporary style and bold colour has been provided, in addition to a lowerlevel sink and drainer with a shallow basin and knee recess.’

The Green Room before refurbishment (left) and an artist’s impression of the new facility (right)

Issue 124 Access by Design


Building study

The Donut Centre has a new multimedia suite for aspiring filmmakers

Future plans and lessons learned Although not physically joined, the Fairplay Centre and Donut Creative Arts Studio are separated by only a few metres. While the design teams for the two buildings were separate, good communication was necessary to ensure a coherent hub for youth activities. Derbyshire County Council is keen to maintain this partnership into the running of the two centres, which enjoy a unique relationship. Dan White explains: ‘Activities at the Donut centre are open to all young people, and the building is now accessible to many more people.’ In fact, it was while Fairplay young people were attending workshops at the Donut centre that Heather noticed the land available at the side. Young people who use Donut centre facilities can also take advantage of volunteering opportunities at either centre. According to Heather Fawbert, 150 young people already volunteer at Fairplay, and new groups have shown interest. Young people will also be encouraged to take up apprentice positions at the complex, as receptionists or gardeners, for example, and Dan White is keen to offer work experience. In addition, training in working with disabled young people for adult staff will be encouraged.

contractor and subcontractors’. The project was enabled by ‘an appropriate procurement route’ which, Liz said, allowed Derbyshire County Council to ‘achieve maximum value in the project’. For Louise Machin, the most important things were thinking about the process from the outset, ‘as it is much easier to integrate access improvements if they are considered early on’, and establishing productive communication between the architect and access officer: ‘Working in partnership means that solutions are properly considered and work well.’ The project was fortunate in that it was funded by £3.1 million, meaning that features such as automated doors could be provided without having to make sacrifices elsewhere. For Heather Fawbert, focusing on the users is essential: ‘Always ask, are we going to be accessible? Is everyone going to be comfortable? Work from that baseline right from the start.’ ●

Other MyPlace schemes which opened during 2009-10 ●● ●●

What key factors had an impact in the success of this project? For Liz Ewbank, it was ‘a highly motivated and committed team, from the client and architect through to the engineers, main


Access by Design Issue 124

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Open Norwich Shoeburyness Youth Centre, Southend New Horizon Youth Centre, London Pegasus Theatre, Oxford Minehead EYE Community Centre

Lifetime Homes

Building a Lifetime Homes Standard fit for the future The Lifetime Homes Standard, a set of 16 criteria for flexible, inclusive housing design, is now widely accepted as essential in meeting the changing requirements of an ageing population. Following a consultation period, revised criteria were published in July 2010. Here, Andrew Shipley, Lifetime Homes Coordinator, explains the rationale behind making the changes and what the main implications are On 5 July 2010 the revised Lifetime Homes Standard was published. This represented the culmination of a process that had commenced in September 2008, when a working group of the government’s Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) began reviewing the British Standards Institution Draft for Development DD266 Design of accessible housing: Lifetime home – Code of practice. The BRAC group, which concluded its review in April 2009, represented a real turning point. For the first time, the housing development industry actively participated in the Lifetime Homes debate. Although the business of the working group was to evaluate the practicability of the DD266, this process simultaneously drew out the industry’s areas of prime concern with the Lifetime Homes Standard (LHS).

of Lifetime Homes was the Code for Sustainable Homes (the Code), scheduled to be updated at the end of 2009, timing was critical. In Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods the government committed to bring about an increase in Lifetime Homes by adopting the LHS as mandatory at successively lower levels of the Code. This was due to start this year, with a requirement for schemes to meet the LHS at level four of the Code, and was intended to have been consulted on as part of Building Research Establishment’s December 2009 consultation. It was therefore imperative that the industry’s concerns be addressed, to maximise support for the adoption of the LHS as mandatory at Code level four.

© Habinteg Housing Association

Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods, the Government’s 2008 national strategy for housing in an ageing society, calls for all new homes to be built to the LHS from 2013. What became clear from the BRAC feedback was that, to achieve this aspiration, steps would need to be taken to address the industry’s real concerns about the practicability and cumulative impacts of certain Lifetime Homes requirements. In addition, as the main driver for bringing forward a greater supply

Issue 124 Access by Design


Lifetime Homes In response, Habinteg established the Lifetime Homes Technical Advisory Group in September 2009. It comprised a cross-section of experts, details of which can be found on the Lifetime Homes website. Its brief was: ●●


to revise the LHS to address the practical difficulties identified during the BRAC review to produce a draft for public consultation to accompany the proposed technical revisions to the Code scheduled for public comment three months later

The inextricable connection to the Code consultation meant that, due to the limited time available, the review of the LHS had to be restricted to those issues relating to the application of specific criteria, prohibiting the possibility of anything more comprehensive. The Technical Advisory Group completed its review by mid-November and the proposed revisions were published for public comment in early December 2009. This represented another significant milestone, as it was the first occasion that the Lifetime Homes Standard had been offered for public scrutiny. The consultation ran until mid March 2010 and a wide range of responses was received from a diverse crosssection of stakeholders including large developers, architects, access professionals, disabled people, disability organisations, professional bodies, housing providers and local authorities. The Technical Advisory Group reconvened in May to discuss the technical comments we received, resulting in the revised criteria published at the beginning of July 2010. There have been a number of significant changes. Firstly, each of the criteria commences with a statement of the principle behind it. The purpose of this is to explain the functional objective the criterion is seeking to achieve. We have also set out the overarching principles on which Lifetime Homes are based, namely: ●● ●● ●● ●● ●●

inclusivity accessibility adaptability sustainability good value

We have also included a link to the latest government research undertaken by Davis


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Langdon and Elemental Energy, into the relative costs of applying the LHS. The changes aim to make Lifetime Homes more practicable across typologies. In recognition of the challenges that steep sites can impose on a development, the LHS now has a more flexible approach to achieving some criteria relating to external access to the dwelling. We have introduced greater choice of location of through-floor lifts to accommodate the needs of a wider spectrum of households. In addition, we have relaxed the requirement to trim the joists, particularly in large developments, in order to minimise the potential cumulative construction costs. This is because, in our view, in the event of such an adaptation being undertaken, preparing the joists represents a relatively minimal additional expense. We have also sought to simplify things: the guidance relating to provision for a bedspace at entrance level has been streamlined, and the bathroom layout and dimensions have been revised to make them more comprehensible. If the LHS is to be adopted on a wide scale by developers of public- and private-sector housing, the changes we have introduced are absolutely necessary. The requirements are, in our view, now appropriate for a national design standard and suitable for incorporation into Building Regulations in the near future. As we all know, the demographic time bomb is ticking and the need for accessible housing climbs steadily. It is our belief that to provide all developers with a commercial level playing field on this issue, it is a matter of some urgency that the LHS finds its way into regulation. In March 2010 the Foundation for Lifetime Homes and Neighbourhoods, a joint venture between the Town and Country Planning Association, Age UK, Habinteg Housing Association and the Royal Association for Disability Rights (RADAR), was launched. The Foundation seeks to improve the implementation of inclusive design principles within the built environment and to promote the LHS. It will continue to promote good practice in the development of inclusive housing in locations where services, amenities and accessible transport connections may be easily accessed. ● For further information, visit the Lifetime Homes website 8

National Trust

A warmer welcome Until recently, the National Trust has had a reputation for focusing more on safeguarding heritage properties than opening them to the mercy of the public. But this image of exclusivity is being eroded, with one particular focus being the involvement of local disabled volunteers. Dr Heather Smith, Head of Access for All at the National Trust, explains At the start of this year, the National Trust launched its strategy for 2010 and beyond. Named Going local: Fresh tracks down old roads, it aims to live up to the Trust’s founding principle: to open up inspirational places ‘for the everlasting delight of the people’, to build stronger relationships between people and places, and to reach every household. What does this bold ambition mean in terms of making the Trust more accessible? As reported in Access by Design issue 111 (Summer 2007), prior to this strategy the Trust had already put in place policies aimed at improving the experience of property visits for disabled people. In terms of admission, personal assistants are eligible for free admission to all Trust properties through the ‘Admit One’ scheme. The Links Pass, one of whose beneficiary groups is disabled people associated with disability charities, allows half-price admission. A comprehensive Access Guide is produced annually detailing particular access facilities at properties; this information is also available on the website, which itself is being redeveloped with the involvement of disabled people. The work of the Trust in improving access has contributed to its success in winning awards, such as the Hearing Dog Friendly Award in 2007 and the Jodi Award 2009 for excellence in accessible digital media.

Branching out While such activities have successfully involved disabled people and disabled people’s organisations at the national level, more connections need to be made at the local level if the aims of the strategy are to be achieved. For many years, the Trust has been operating an access audit programme for its mansion and garden properties carried out by independent

access consultants who are either disabled themselves or who are accompanied by disabled people. These audits include assessing the information available before the visit, getting to the property and following the visitor journey around the site. Recommendations from the audits are prioritised and added to each property’s management plan to be actioned: while some are quick and easy to complete, others take more time and require further discussion before they can be developed. Property staff discuss the findings of the report with the auditors and also with the Trust’s central Access for All team to increase their awareness of why certain recommendations have been made.

Consulting disabled people Opportunities to discuss improvements directly with disabled people form another integral part of improving access. This type of consultation has been particularly influential in the development of an assessment process for outdoor sites. The process was developed through a series of workshops, led by the Sensory Trust and disabled people representing other charities, and attended by countryside staff. The workshops demonstrated the value of meeting with disabled people and taking a visit round a site together; many have since organised visits to their own sites to discuss access improvements in specific areas. In addition to the workshops, a programme of disability-awareness training is also available for staff and volunteers. This training is delivered by disabled people bringing their personal experience to the training sessions, discussing the importance of making access improvements to historic properties and the variety of requirements that people may have. The auditing and training are national programmes that require local support and

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National Trust activity to achieve maximum benefit for more visitors. In addition, each property has to source its own funding and the human resource to put in place the audit recommendations. In our experience, completing an audit and participating in a training session is only part of the story. Understanding of the need to improve accessibility is built by continuing the dialogue beyond the audit and training session. The workshops were a very useful starting point in developing an understanding of the benefit of these connections, and in raising awareness that the Trust valued the opinion of disabled people local to properties and was prepared to try their ideas. Independent disabled visitors also often discuss the accessibility of properties, either complimenting changes or highlighting the potential need for more work to be done. All these conversations can be very helpful to understand mutual expectations, as well as to learn about access solutions in place at historic

properties outside the Trust which it may be possible to replicate. Building on these examples and experiences, property teams now feel encouraged to begin to make further contacts with local access groups and to maintain dialogue with disabled visitors. Feedback from these discussions identifies ways to progress properties both in their structural development, by developing a new ways of looking at the visitor experience and assessing whether current visitor centres deliver the appropriate welcome, for example, and in the activities that take place in the properties’ space. Of course, the early stages of building a new relationship with a local access group or with individual visitors do not always go smoothly. It takes time to get to a point of understanding and realise the mutual benefit of this new way of working. However the relationship is worth working at, as it can produce some very

Case study: Access to Heritage brings Speke Hall to life

‘In 2008, Speke Hall worked with the AHP to create an exciting new sensory trail for the ground floor of the Hall. We developed the idea using three artists specialising in sound, smell and touch, together with 25 adults with learning disabilities who make up the project’s forum.

Visitors try out the tactile model of an ornate ceiling 24

Access by Design Issue 124

Consulting people with learning disabilities was key to the successful development of the sensory trail. The result was the creation of five new sensory pieces of art, including a copy of Mrs Beeton’s Household management and cook book, which releases scents of herbs and spices when the pages are opened, and a seemingly traditional box that opens to reveal a tactile model of the ornate plaster ceiling. The trail is now proving successful at bringing the history of the house to life for all of our supporters.’

© NTPL, Arnhel de Serra

In 2004, MENCAP Liverpool set up the Access to Heritage Project (AHP) to look at how stories and interpretation at historic venues could be made more accessible for people with learning disabilities. Anne Inskip, Liverpool Properties House Steward, describes some of the initiatives put in place:

National Trust worthwhile results. For example, Disability Stockport, an umbrella organisation for groups and individuals with an interest in disability matters, began working with Trust properties in the northwest region in 2007 following a workshop where the group made some specific comments about accessibility. Property teams and regional colleagues decided to explore these comments in more detail and so began an ongoing relationship. Representatives from the group have advised on accessibility improvements for new areas of properties being opened to the public, audio guides, and other additions to interpretation. Enable NI, an organisation which promotes inclusion for disabled people in the Southern Area of Northern Ireland, worked with the Trust in the area encompassing Divis and the Black Mountain, one of the mountains above Belfast, to develop a new visitor centre with a Changing Places facility, the first one at a Trust property. Disabled people can also offer support remotely using skills in research and assessment of virtual presentation of properties. Access groups and individual disabled people supporting properties in this way do so on a voluntary basis, with travel and refreshments expenses covered. As well as being in line with the Going local strategy’s emphasis on local involvement, this also fits well with the Trust’s

Case study:

Think differently volunteering campaign, which promotes volunteering as a means of connecting properties with their local communities. The campaign aims to show that the Trust can offer more flexibility in volunteering, with more diverse roles and volunteers enabled to contribute at every level. While the properties’ traditional volunteering roles, such as room guides, conservation assistants or front-of-house staff, already involve disabled people, the access group work provides a different form of voluntary work. Furthermore, the increased awareness caused by working directly with disabled people on access improvements has led increasingly to staff asking existing volunteers for ideas of how their experience could be improved. It also enriches an understanding of what changes are possible. As the Trust moves further forward into this strategy period, it is hoped that the conversations and examples shown here continue to grow in number and enable the properties to be embedded into the lives of everybody in the local community. ● To find out more about volunteering opportunities at the National Trust, visit the website 8

Enabling access to Divis and the Black Mountain

In November 2004 the National Trust acquired the area of Divis and the Black Mountain, Northern Ireland, when it ceased to be used by the Ministry of Defence; in 2007, this was expanded by an additional 470 acres on the Black Hill. In total the Trust now cares for and protects 2,000 acres of magnificent upland heath and blanket bog here. In 2011 the Trust plans to open a new centre, the Long Barn visitor resource, which will be a welcome addition for all visitors to this dramatic landscape. It will provide a meeting place for local communities and the many groups who regularly access the mountain, and, it is hoped, encourage more visitors to the mountain. Visitors will be able to enjoy the new facilities and find out more about the archaeological history and unique

habitats and wildlife of this spectacular area while relaxing in the new refreshment facilities. A high proportion of the estimated 26,500 people in Northern Ireland with a learning disability live in the Southern Area. The voluntary organisation Enable NI exists to promote social inclusion and aims to improve the quality of life of individuals with learning disabilities, enabling them to participate in the community and give respite to their carers. Enable NI supported the Trust to prove its commitment to providing access for all and assisted with the development of a Changing Places toilet. Disabled visitors and their families will now be able to enjoy this spectacular place, from which they would otherwise have been excluded. The Long Barn and the Changing Place will add to the overall visitor experience

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National Trust

for many people in Belfast, Northern Ireland and further afield. Moira Scanlon, an occupational therapist lobbying to improve access to community facilities, said: ‘Enable NI are very proud to have lobbied for the provision of a Changing

Case study:

Disability Stockport digs into Quarry Bank Mill Garden

Disability Stockport were asked to contribute their ideas to Quarry Bank Mill Garden, in the grounds of an eighteenth-century cotton mill. Peter Wilkins, a trustee of Disability Stockport, explains their contribution.

I was given the chance to listen to examples of work done by Soundmaps, which impressed me greatly. I also had several opportunities to read the script for the guide, and I made suggestions about the wording. We had a couple of meetings when we went through the script with a fine-tooth comb. Later, I was asked to examine a number of MP3 players to be used by visitors, and to give my opinion on the layout of the controls, and how easy I thought they

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would be for visually impaired people to learn and use. On another occasion I took part in the recording, and was given the opportunity to say a few words. I have enjoyed all my meetings at Quarry Bank Mill, and have found the staff there, and their National Trust Colleagues from other parts of the country, very pleasant people to work with. I hope everyone will enjoy the garden, and hope that the audio guide enhances their visit.’ The audio tour for Quarry Bank Mill Garden can be downloaded from the National Trust website 8

© NT/Emma Williams

‘A group of people from Disability Stockport visited the garden to advise on various access issues. These included working out the best route through the garden for wheelchairs: although difficult terrain prevents wheelchair access in some places, where practicable, alterations were made to the pathways. Being visually impaired myself, I became most interested in setting up the audio guide, which is designed for everyone to use. On my first few visits I was able to make suggestions as to how various parts of the walk could be described in a way which would be helpful to blind people, and, at the same time, be useful for everyone else. This could be an explanation about terrain, the position of handrails, uneven steps and so on.


Places toilet on Divis Mountain. This is a unique opportunity to enable a significant group of people previously excluded from many activities that most of us take for granted. We now need to encourage people to make the most of the new possibilities open to them.’

Disability Stockport’s Peter Wilkins visits the Quarry Bank Mill Garden

Building Regulations special feature

Implementing the Building Regulations The debate over whether Part M is globally enforced began long before Communities and Local Government requested feedback

The Building Control Officer David Withington, District Surveyor’s Office, City of London

on the Building Regulations this August. Indeed, while many professionals recognise the need to update the Approved Document M, ensuring the guidance within the current Document is met is perhaps even more pressing. Here, Building Control Officer David Withington and Terry Warren of Approved Inspector jhai limited explain their roles in implementing Part M, while Melanie Smith, Senior Lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University, outlines her department’s research into enforcement of the Building Regulations

Building Control in the City of London The ‘square mile’ constituting the City of London, differs from most other London Boroughs in that it contains only approximately 5,000 residents, the majority of the built environment being offices and shops. Commercial properties in the City are frequently changing, either due to new development or refurbishment for new occupiers. This makes for a relatively high turnover of work and constant reference to applicable building standards of which Approved Document M forms only part, but one which can take precedent should there be conflict with other requirements of the Building Regulations. The District Surveyor’s Office benefits from a wealth of knowledge and experience in

The City of London witnesses a high turnover of commercial buildings

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Building Regulations special feature accessibility, with several staff having been involved in Building Control for a considerable length of time. We are affiliated to the London District Surveyors Association, which is part of the national Local Authority Building Control. This gives us a wide network of industry contacts in the industry together with both local and central Government for consultation and guidance. Statements relating to access were introduced following the revised Approved Document M (AD M) and anti-discrimination legislation changes in 2004. It would seem logical that by now the process would be well imbedded in the construction industry. However, this is not always the case: despite needing to be incorporated in most planning applications, Design and Access Statements are often an afterthought in a project. Not being part of planning, we are not involved at that stage unless requested by the designers; however, it is important for Building Control to be involved as early as possible in any project. We therefore offer early consultation to all clients, which in our experience saves time for the designers and construction teams and results in more efficient and effective solutions. We also receive copies of the observations about planning applications made by the City of London Access Team; while these are invariably higher than the standards that we can reasonably ask for under Building Regulations, they form a useful tool and a point of contact between the Access Team and ourselves.

“Early consultation saves time and results in more efficient and effective solutions” Where we receive applications that do not fully comply with the guidance, we ask for an Access Statement as part of a conditional approval. This is the applicant’s opportunity to highlight the reasoning behind the proposals as well as explaining why certain guidance is not appropriate in the particular case. When drawings are submitted, or in some cases during the works, we endeavour to reach agreement on reasonable compliance and address any outstanding issues.

Progress and lingering problem areas It is now fairly common that the development industry has understood issues such as:


Access by Design Issue 124


level access


good signage


accessible sanitary provision


buttons at accessible heights


induction loops in auditoria

However, in our experience we often need to inform designers and builders about: ●●

layouts of reception areas, including desk heights, lighting, induction loops and signage


detailed layout of sanitary provision


visual emergency alarms


general accessibility to refreshment areas


new provision for staff gyms and changing rooms: these facilities are often proposed for basements and clients rarely consider accessibility, as cost may be the main priority


visual contrast: this is still something that is not incorporated as many designers still want a single colour ‘white look’ of walls, ceilings, doors and door frames, with minimalist door furniture. Visual contrast is also often absent from areas such as seating in auditoria, as is a selection of seats with armrests, legroom and so on


door opening force: many contractors are surprised that this is a requirement, and that 30N is accepted as a maximum force with the door in the closed position, as witnessed by the shock when an officer arrives on site with a spring balance to test doors

Although we raise these and other fundamental issues in initial meetings and incorporate conditions covering them in the passing of plans, many remain contentious well into the design and even construction stage. Sometimes designers feel that an Access Statement will excuse any items excluded in the build. However, when the real intent of the document is made clear, that is, to provide mitigating evidence requiring the client’s input should legal action be taken under equality legislation, many prefer to change the design. Perhaps if designers and their clients appreciated at the outset the true purpose of Access Statements, accessibility would be better considered.

Building Regulations special feature We liaise closely with Access Team; it is extremely useful to be able to ask their opinion on a particular accessibility issue. However, as Brenda Wallman, Head of Access, clarifies, the Access Team ‘strive to obtain the highest level of accessibility, and where possible go beyond AD M’; in Building Control we can only ensure reasonable compliance with AD M. We understand the impact that a consideration of accessibility issues can have on a design, but we feel that they can be incorporated most effectively if they are considered at the outset and with our input. In August of this year, Communities and Local Government asked for feedback on the Building Regulations, with a view to prioritising areas for change. We look forward to improvements in the built environment for all and hope to continue to play a worthwhile part in the process. City of London Building Control 8 Local Authority Building Control 8

The Approved Inspector Terry Warren, NRAC Consultant and Inclusive Design Manager, jhai limited

What is an Approved Inspector? The Building Control Body responsible for delivering the approval, inspection and signing

off of a project under the Building Regulations can be either the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) of the relevant geographic area where the building work is taking place, or an Approved Inspector (AI). In simple terms, AIs work within the private sector, while the LABC is public sector. Both charge fees, and a builder or developer can choose which to contract. AIs compete with LABC and with other AIs using fees, level of service and additional services as selling points. LABCs do not compete with other LABCs as they operate within their own geographic authority. There have been periods of frostiness and some mud-slinging between LABC and AIs over the years, but this is only to be expected in a competitive market. In practice, many Building Control Officers (BCOs) will have worked in both the public and the private sector. An AI, whether an individual or a company, has to be licensed every five years by the Government via the Construction Industry Council to carry out the function of Building Control. The role is subject to strict rules regarding insurances, protocol and performance data. Like any other private business, an AI can be sued if they are negligent. What an AI cannot do is to enforce Building Regulations. If a builder refuses to comply with Building Regulations the final sanction an AI can take is to withdraw from the process and hand the job over to the relevant LABC, which has the legal powers to take enforcement action. jhai limited is a corporate Approved Inspector with around 100 staff across England and Wales, including access specialists and consultants on the National Register of Access Consultants. Many projects undertaken are public buildings and therefore have implications under equality legislation. Access advice is provided as part of the standards service for Building Control projects, and the organisation also has access consultancy and education departments.

Working towards Part M compliance

Designers often favour an ‘all white’ minimalist style which can lack visual contrast

Clearly, the progress of a building project from concept to completion is not always seamless. Ideally, clients would contact us at the pre-planning stage for a free Building Regulations consultation, as clients with whom we have previously worked tend to do. However, in practice, most projects will have already

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Building Regulations special feature been through the planning stage, which is understandable as Building Control is virtually the last statutory hurdle before occupation. A Design and Access Statement will have been submitted already, and to the client this would appear to give a degree of certainty of further approval. However, three distinct problems can occur: ●●

planning does not deal with the interior details of a building. Therefore if, for example, we ask an accessible shower at 2m x 2.2m to be added, either something else internally will have to be removed, or the footprint of the building increases, meaning that the application has to return to planning. This can be very unpopular


planning can contradict Part M when dealing with external access routes from the edge of a site. Planning approval can be given for a design that might not comply with AD M, resulting in confusion and understandable annoyance if the design has to be reworked


external public areas of large projects such as town centre developments may be outside the scope of Building Control, and may not have had any professional access input. For example, anecdotal evidence suggests that landscape architects may not always be asked for handrails or nosings to external steps

These problems reinforce both the need for early consultation with Building Control Bodies and the need for better training for planners. Our involvement usually begins when a client sends drawings to a project manager. While most drawings are now sent as electronic files, we still often receive rudimentary sketches, particularly for small mezzanine floor projects. The project manager evaluates the drawings to assess compliance: while many Parts of the Building Regulations require further technical information or certification, for Part M the drawings should provide most necessary information. However, certain elements are commonly missing, such as information on visual contrast, ironmongery design and door schedules, so the project managers need to know when to request further details. It is often expected that architects and


Access by Design Issue 124

designers should by now be familiar with all aspects of AD M, but it should be appreciated that their designs have to satisfy other regulations. Taking a proactive, helpful approach helps reduce the likelihood of making a site visit and having to request extensive changes at a later date. However, as David has noted, Building Control processes can only request reasonable compliance with the Requirements of Part M, not best practice. For example, a shiny marble floor in a hotel reception might be confusing for visually impaired people, but it would be hard for a Building Control professional to reject it if the decision could not be justified using the guidance in AD M. Following examination of the drawings, the AI inspects the site at various stages up to completion. It may seem surprising that many decisions are made on site, but of course designs can change; sometimes the drawings we receive have an indicative WC layout, only for a site visit to reveal that grabrails have been installed at a crazy height. When the AI is satisfied, a Final Certificate can be issued.

The Building Control professional’s role New-build projects are generally the easiest to get right; problems occur more often with extensions, alterations and fit-outs where existing structures, site constraints and financial implications can all affect the outcome. This requires the Building Control professional’s experience and judgment: compromises need to be negotiated, Access Statements are considered and the potential implications under equality legislation need to be explained to the client. We have heard many different arguments for not meeting the guidance in AD M, such as ‘we don’t have disabled customers’ or, bafflingly, ‘we’re a design-led practice’. We try to work out solutions that maximise accessibility while working with the client’s aspirations. In my experience, where projects go wrong in relation to Part M this is most likely to be due to ignorance on the part of the Building Control professional. Like architects and designers, they have to retain a huge amount of technical knowledge; it therefore makes sense to have experts specialising in inclusive design, fire and sustainability to interpret the Building Regulations. It is also vital that staff are kept up to date with access issues.

Building Regulations special feature “We have heard many different arguments for not meeting the guidance in AD M, such as ‘we don’t have disabled customers’ or ‘we’re a design-led practice”’ Some professionals believe that Building Control itself is too unregulated; personally, I would be in favour of monitoring, such as audits of files held by AIs and LABCs by suitably qualified professionals. While this is unlikely to happen, there is always scope to tighten up access regulation; in the Republic of Ireland Disability Access Certificates are now mandatory and, although an extra financial burden to a project, they may be more effective than the rather woolly Access Statements operational in England. Like many people in the construction industry, I believe that the October 2004 phase of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), which introduced obligations for service providers to assess physical features, has failed to have the effect on our high streets that many people had hoped for. Nevertheless, with the hundreds of thousands of construction projects that go through Building Control each year in the UK, I do believe that more than any other professional group Local Authority and Approved Inspector Building Control Officers have done the most to deliver inclusive and accessible buildings for us all to use and to fulfil some of the aspirations of the DDA.


The researcher Melanie Smith, FRICS, Senior Lecturer and Course Leader, BSc Building Surveying, Leeds Metropolitan University In 2009, the Centre for the Built Environment at Leeds Metropolitan University carried out some research for Communities and Local Government (CLG), which was published this year. The research explored the implementation of the Building Regulations for England and Wales. Although the study focused on Part L, Conservation of fuel and power, some of the findings are relevant to other areas of the Building Regulations, including Part M, Access to and use of buildings.

Unless explicitly prohibited, it can be hard to insist against elements such as highly reflective floors A series of 11 workshops were held covering different regions of the UK in order to explore the issues and to collate raw data for the project. These consisted of: ●●

four local authority building control groups


two approved inspector groups


one private housing sector group


one social housing sector group


two groups of non-domestic developers and their consultants


one group of planning and conservation officers from local authorities and the historic conservation community

The workshop participants represented all sectors and most professions in the industry. There were some issues which were specific to particular groups, sectors or professions, but there was more correlation and general agreement across the sectors. Although specific questioning covered the criteria set in the Approved Documents for Part L, general process questioning covered methods of submission, site inspections, the determination of as-constructed information, and the ease of establishing compliance. It is this latter point which is of interest here.

Informal enforcement v formal enforcement One of the findings emphasised in the research is that legislation without legal enforcement is seen to be of low priority in the industry. Basically, the industry considers that where there is little legal enforcement of an issue through the courts, this issue is of little importance for compliance. Many examples were offered to the researchers

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Building Regulations special feature illustrating that where there is no serious intervention by the legal professions, the industry and public as a whole doubts serious intent on behalf of the government and the enforcers. Surprisingly, all sectors stated that they would welcome more consequences for non-compliance.

“Legislation without legal enforcement is seen to be of low priority in the industry” Local authority Building Control had recently been criticised for not enforcing the Building Regulations more strongly through the courts. In response to this external criticism with respect to enforcement, a number of Building Control groups taking part in the workshops sought to distinguish between formal or legal enforcement, and informal enforcement. Informal enforcement of the regulations, in line with approved documents, was regarded by all sectors as the ideal, particularly because of the opportunities for increased education and training of designers and contractors that this offers. To legally enforce, the case for criminal prosecution has to be beyond all reasonable doubt. There is additionally a reasonableness test required to pursue prosecution. For example, Regulation M1 says: Reasonable provision shall be made for people to – a. gain access to; and b. use the building and its facilities Regulation M2, which relates to extensions, requires that: Suitable independent access shall be provided to the extension where reasonably practicable So it has to be beyond reasonable doubt that reasonable provision, where reasonably practicable, has not been made. There is much interpretation here, even with the guidance available.

Obstacles to taking legal action The complexity and flexibility inherent in some parts of the regulations were seen by the


Access by Design Issue 124

groups as critical issues in being able to pass the reasonableness test. The Building Control groups represented by Approved Inspectors and Building Control Officers said that, other than Part A (structure) and Part B (fire), many aspects of the Building Regulations are not seen by local authority lawyers and the magistrates as life or death issues, and therefore are a low priority for the legal teams. Legal cases are subject to risk assessment because a lost case is regarded as a waste of public resources. The Building Control Officers therefore saw little advantage in seeking legal enforcement. However, the lack of legal enforcement cases was seen by non-Building Control such as designers, contractors, clients as sending a signal to the industry that noncompliance with regulation lacked priority and commitment. This applied to Part M as much as Part L. The Building Control and Approved Inspector groups involved in the research made the point very strongly that informal enforcement was undertaken on a day-to-day basis and was generally effective. Indeed, they felt that much of the external criticism was misplaced. Many referred to the importance of their role in taking what one group referred to as ‘pre-contravention interventions’. The Approved Inspector groups pointed out that informal enforcement was the only option open to them as any formal cases had to be forwarded to the local authority for legal enforcement. However where informal methods had no effect, Building Control generally felt powerless in the face of the legal difficulties. ● The full report, entitled Review of the implementation of Part L 2006: BD 2702, can be accessed from the CLG website

8 Melanie Smith FRICS, an NRAC consultant, is the author of Using the Building Regulations: Access Part M Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2005

We would love to hear your views on what is and is not working in implementing the Building Regulations. Email info@cae., or write to Centre for Accessible Environments, 70 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1RL

Access innovations

Innovations New products in the access field Olympus DM5 Dictaphone The Olympus DM5 dictaphone featured at the recent Techshare Mobile exhibition, which highlighted innovations in accessible communications technology. This product has been designed in conjunction with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and

RNIB React RNIB React is an electronic wayfinding system that helps visually impaired people navigate pedestrian and transport environments. It has

the British Dyslexia Association (BDA). The dictaphone has 8Gb of internal storage, enough to accommodate over 2,000 hours of recording. It supports the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) format with which RNIB encodes audio books, allows some functions to be controlled by voice commands, and allows text files to be transferred from a computer and read aloud.

been installed in many town and city centres and transport hubs around the UK. The system incorporates a number of strategically placed speaker units sited around a specific area or on a station platform or concourse. The user carries a trigger fob which activates the speaker when they come into range. The speaker delivers a pre-recorded audio message at a volume suitable for the ambient conditions. The initial audio message helps users to confirm their location and orientate themselves. Further messages can be triggered by an additional button on the fob or the system can be linked to real-time information (RTI). The RTI feature allows visually impaired people to access real-time train running information that is often only provided visually on screens.

8 consumer/2581_23113.htm

RNIB aims to establish RNIB React as a national standard for the provision of audio information, and to increase continuity between audio systems between different areas and transport providers, to enable people to use a single trigger fob to use the system in their local areas as well as across the UK. Information about installation and use is available on the RNIB website.

8 rnib-react Issue 124 Access by Design


Access innovations

‘Smart’ housing

The house has been fitted with a wheelchair accessible lift (below) and electronic switching with built-in digital displays for heating controls (left)

In June of this year, the charity Phoneability hosted a seminar named Smart living: The way forward for disabled and older people at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in London. The seminar called for a national coherent plan to

develop integrated systems and services to meet the needs of an ageing population. One of the innovations highlighted at this event was the Osborne Affordable House, built at the Business Research Establishment (BRE) Innovation Park in Watford.

Intelligent lighting and heating control systems have also been installed, using passive infrared motion sensors allowing The Osborne Affordable House at the BRE Innovation Park

Matrix ceramic wall tile collection Following a suggestion by an access consultant, tile manufacturer Pilkington has produced the Matrix ceramic wall tile collection. The tiles in this collection are available in gloss and matt finishes; there


automatic operation, and there are plans to add active sensor technology, linked to the nearby Community Healthcare Campus.

are 57 different solid colours available in five different sizes. The light reflectance value (LRV) of each tile has been evaluated using a spectrometer. Good visual contrast can be achieved by using tiles which have 30 points LRV differential, either in tonal variance, harmonising variance, or contrasting variance. The

results have been collated in six tables, for both gloss and matt tiles, to aid designers when selecting tiles.

8 matrix-tiles

This section is for information only. Please note that CAE does not recommend any products.


Access by Design Issue 124

Š All photos: Peter White, BRE

The house is built from a structural insulated panel system, which allows a quick build time, gives excellent thermal performance and requires minimal internal structure, allowing for easy installation of items such as wheelchair lifts.

Access agony clinic

Access Agony clinic Do you have a burning access query? Don’t get your nosings in a twist: just send it to CAE and we will ask an expert for their professional advice Accessible WC I am the trustee of an advice and counselling centre charity. We have employed an architect to advise on modifications to the building to improve accessibility. There is a split-level ground floor, with the upper level being approx 1m higher than the lower level. Space is at a premium and the trustees would rather install a folding ‘stair climber’ type wheelchair lift as the recommended ‘platform type lift’ takes up too much space.

stairs. It takes the whole weight of the wheelchair and occupant and needs to be operated by a helper who needs training and some amount of dexterity. It can be put away in a cupboard or hung on a wall when not in use. This is obviously not suitable for independent use by a wheelchair user and needs a member of staff to be available. It is also slow and not very dignified. It would be an appropriate device for use in an emergency, but is not suitable for the main means of moving between the two floor levels.

We plan to construct a wheelchair accessible WC at the rear (upper) ground floor together with more interview rooms of appropriate layout to accommodate wheelchair users. The architect has strongly advised that the ‘accessibility community’ together with potential lift users are reluctant to install/use the folding type ‘stair climber’ and that it would be wasting money to pursue that route. However, the trustees find this argument difficult to accept as space is at a premium and they had seen stair climbing lifts in many public buildings. What is your advice? Brenda says: First of all, well done for seeking professional advice. Your architect is on the right track. A folding stair climber is a portable device used to move wheelchair users up and down

This edition’s expert advice comes from , Brenda Puech r o ct CAE’s Dire cy of Consultan

An alternative is a wheelchair stairlift fixed permanently to the stairs which has a fold-down platform which allows the wheelchair user to ascend and descend a stair independently while remaining seated in a wheelchair. BS 8300 and the Approved Document M of the Building Regulations both recommend that such stairlifts should only be installed where it is not possible to install a lifting platform. This is because they often affect means of escape as the width of the stairs is reduced. They should also only be installed in an environment where management supervision and assistance is available. The required width of means of escape should be maintained when the platform is in its folded position and should not be installed where they restrict the safe use of the stairs by other building occupants. The advice of the local fire officer should always be sought. A vertical platform lift is the ideal option for rises of less than 2m.

Platform lifts are generally preferable to stair climbers

Where space is a premium you could consider a step lift also called a scissor lift. This has a platform which rises vertically and has bridging steps which either fold up or retract as the platform rises. It can replace existing steps or be installed over the top of existing steps.

Issue 124 Access by Design


Access agony clinic

Photographic face board My company manages an amusement park area on a seafront. We are constructing a face board, with a hole where visitors can put their faces and have photographs taken. How can we make it accessible? Brenda says: The face board is a great idea

Peer support: access consultant’s query Does anyone have a suggestion on how to deal with large oak handrails to a staircase in a listed building, which are too low (750mm) and too wide (150mm) for an easy grip? This staircase is the main central staircase and is located within an imposing lobby. Most visitors would use this staircase to get to the hall on first floor. The architects say that there is a lift adjacent to the stairs for visitors who cannot use the handrails and the heritage body would not like the handrails removed or modified. I would not like to disturb the existing handrail which is very beautiful, but I do not think it provides acceptable access. Do you think it is justified to place a second smaller handrail at a higher level supported from the side of the stairs, or is there any other solution? Trevor Huckle, Partner at Ingleton Wood LLP responds: This is not an easy ‘nut to crack’ and it pains me to conclude that probably what you are looking for is unreasonable in the circumstances that you describe. You do not say what the building is used for, so assuming that it is open to the public, in my opinion


Access by Design Issue 124

to allow people to take on other personalities. First of all you need to have face holes at different levels to allow adults and children of different heights to place their faces through the holes. You may also consider installing two grabrails at one or more of the holes, so that ambulant disabled people can support themselves while getting photographed.

For wheelchair users, it is slightly trickier as you need to provide them with knee space so that they can face the holes directly rather than having to twist sideways. Wheelchair users require a 500mm deep kneespace which should be 700mm high, so the board would have to be shaped to accommodate this. You will need to use your imagination to create a suitable outer image – perhaps someone who is seated.

it would not be reasonable to install another handrail if there is an alternative means of access. Is there a reason why an individual would need to go upstairs to receive the services or goods on offer?

flight by simply adjusting where one holds on, assuming that one can obtain a grip. In fact we all do this subconsciously anyway, with taller people holding on slightly back in their stance and shorter people slightly forward while climbing the stair and the reverse when descending. It is just the foot and head of the stair that causes the most concern with the transfer to and from the landing. That is where the height is more critical. What you can do will depend on the overall aesthetics and design of the staircase, but with the heritage body saying no, ultimately they would have the final say. Often there is an inferior, more domestic type staircase that might be more suitable to adapt and the heritage body might accept works to that which could be your solution. That would enable you to meet the occupier’s legal liability and your professional advice can be adopted while maintaining the architectural heritage of the principal staircase.

If there were suitably trained staff available to assist those who for some reason could not use the lift and needed assistance in using the stair, that would satisfy the requirements of the Act. As far as inclusion is concerned in historic buildings one always has to take a view. I believe particularly with heritage barriers to access one needs to consider the proportion of people who cannot gain access. So in this case those who cannot gain adequate support from the handrail and cannot use the lift. Often in historic buildings the principal stair is a feature sometimes with stair treads so wide and deep that a walking frame, crutches or walking stick can be used quite easily on the staircase and still leave room for others to pass as required. On a staircase it is possible to hold the handrail at a comfortable height for most of the

I have put my head above the parapet and expect to be shot at, but that’s my opinion on the information provided.

If you have an access query, a photo of good or bad practice, or would like to share your views about something you’ve read in Access by Design, we’d love to hear from you Email: Address: Centre for Accessible Environments, 70 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1RL.

Access champions

Access champions In this, the first instalment of a new series celebrating people in the access field, we focus on Proudlock Associates, an access auditing and pan-disability consultancy service led by husband and wife team Liam and Tracey Proudlock. Here, Tracey and Liam describe each

As long as I have known Liam he has been involved with creating inclusion and removing barriers. Following early work as a Community Service Volunteer, Liam worked at the BBC, assessing the workplace situations of over 500 disabled members of staff across the UK and recommending solutions for adjustments. He helped set up the Access Unit, a one-stop shop on disability issues, became Access Manager, reviewed the BBC’s own internal Access Standards and worked on many new developments. While at the BBC he studied inclusive design at Reading University, which has been pivotal to his professional development and to our work together. Since gaining his BSc (Hons) in Construction Management and MSc in Inclusive Environments, he has undertaken more work regarding urban design and masterplanning. The business is so fortunate in being able to benefit from his skills, such as his knack of dissecting problems and providing creative solutions for our clients. Examples include his work on shared surfaces at Barking Riverside, and his input into Buzzard Mouth Courts, which was recently awarded a Housing Design Award 2010. Liam is currently working on an access project on behalf of a foreign embassy based in London, which has required him to research diplomatic immunity. Academically he is way ahead of me and every day I turn to him for advice. Liam places a high value on continuing professional development and membership of national bodies; hence he’s a member of the Centre for Accessible Environments, is on the National Register of Access Consultants and is active in the Access Association on a national as well as regional level.

Liam on Tracey Before setting up the business Tracey was Head of Policy and Political Affairs for Shaw Trust (1998-2005). She was confronted with a great deal of negativity when she was setting up the company. The financial adviser wanted to turn back the clock, proclaiming that ‘disabled working mums over 40 are not economically appealing’. She had her revenge through a spot-on business plan, followed by year-on-year growth and excellent clients. Originally most of her clients wanted disability equality training or consultancy, but over time the demand for access auditing and inclusive design grew. By 2008, Tracey had won several business awards and it was clear that an access consultant was needed full time – hence my decision to join the business. In April this year Tracey was appointed to Equality 2025, a high-level advisory group of disabled people offering ministers and senior government officials strategic advice. She is also currently working on the London Accessible Housing Register.

Credit: Martin Black

Tracey on Liam

Credit: Martin Black

other, indicating how their experience and specialisms complement one another

My favourite piece of work with Tracey was the colossal Barking Riverside, a development providing housing for 26,000 people, three schools and a community and retail centre. Tracey convened a consultation group of disabled people for numerous meetings while I composed the Access Statements. She transformed technical guidance into real life for us to understand and discuss, and on more than one occasion herself interrogated me about design decisions in front of the group. Afterwards I wondered if she would privately explain or apologise for the grillings. Not a chance: she fights exclusion with all her heart. ●



If you would like to nominate an access champion, contact Madeleine Gray, editor of Access by Design

Issue 124 Access by Design


The latest accessibility guidance for designers, building owners, occupiers and facilities managers.

Stairs, ramps and escalators Inclusive design guidance Ann Alderson

This practical handbook sets out the design and specification principles of steps, stairs, ramps, escalators and moving walks for inclusive environments. These critically important building elements are connected to a large number of accidents and can present significant barriers to access. Designed to be ‘dipped into’, the handbook outlines the background legislation, regulations and associated best practice guidance. It explains how good practice can mitigate hazards and improve accessibility. Sections on design issues and technical implementation are supported by illustrations and case studies that demonstrate solutions for different situations. Where particular building types have unique requirements covered by separate guidelines, these are highlighted. A final section considers the operational and maintenance issues that need to be addressed.

Design issues explained and technical guidance outlined for each element, section by section.

Concise and clearly explained, Stairs, ramps and escalators brings together a wide range of current research for easy reference. It is an indispensable resource for designers, specifiers, building owners and occupiers, building managers and facilities managers and anyone involved in designing and maintaining an inclusive built environment.

RIBA Publishing | April 2010 | 120 pages | Code 71557 | ISBN 978 1 18594 665 9 | ÂŁ30.00

3 Easy Ways to Order Online: Tel: +44 (0)20 7256 7222, Fax: +44 (0)20 7374 2737 Visit your local RIBA Bookshop: London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Belfast

Case studies, simple diagrams and photographs illustrate good design and practice.

Access by design Autumn 2010 Issue 124  

The journal of the Centre for Accessible Environments, Access by Design is the UK's leading quarterly publication on inclusive design. The...

Access by design Autumn 2010 Issue 124  

The journal of the Centre for Accessible Environments, Access by Design is the UK's leading quarterly publication on inclusive design. The...