Ensuring inclusive design in our public spaces

Communities Minister Stephen Williams chaired a roundtable discussion (20 October 2014) with key professional bodies and challenged them to do more to make buildings, streets and public space more inclusive and accessible to all.

The minister argued that, all too often, the various needs of the people expected to use these facilities are an afterthought – when it would be beneficial to the public and project managers if these considerations were made at the design stage of the process.

Stephen Williams challenged the industry to get communities involved from the very beginning of a project, to ensure the needs of all those planning to use those buildings, streets and public spaces are met as soon as they open.

He said:

‘The success of the 2012 Olympic Park was that everyone – whether people with disabilities or non-disabled – were able to benefit from that historic event at venues that were well-designed from the outset and met a whole range of requirements. The challenge for the industry is to replicate that success elsewhere, and ensure that designers, contractors, and the workers on the ground deliver truly inclusive environments that everyone can access and enjoy.

I believe that it is the initiative and leadership of the industry itself that will make the real difference and that’s I want today’s panel to develop an action plan to ensure that this happens.’

John Mather, Chief Executive at Design Council-Cabe, which is hosting the meeting stated:

‘We believe that there is not only a need, but a desire within all sectors of the development industry to develop shared practice and guidance around inclusive design, and we’re delighted to be able to lead on this critical issue.’

Paul Everall CBE, Chief Executive of Local Authorities Building Control and representing the Building Control Alliance which brings together all building control professionals in the private and public sectors, welcomed this initiative and stressed the important role that surveyors play in maintaining high accessibility standards in buildings.

Rachel Smalley, President of the Access Association also welcomed this initiative saying:

‘We look forward to working with the other bodies represented here today to deliver on this objective.’

The group will be tasked with developing an action plan and to report back in February 2015 on progress.

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