Inclusive design should be seen as a continuous process – from the initial concept, the design brief or master plan, through to the detailed design; the planning and building control approval processes; onto construction and the operation, management and maintenance of the completed facility.
Each of these stages should be an inclusive process in themselves, involving potential users, including disabled people.
Design and Access Statements
Are forms of equality impact assessment that explicitly state how and why a proposal meets the appropriate standards.
Equality Impact Assessment
Disability equality impact assessment is one form of equality impact assessment.
It is the process of assessing the impact of existing or proposed initiatives in relation to their consequences for disability equality.
Disability equality impact assessment is as an overall approach and way of thinking, it is not an end in itself.
The purpose is to achieve improvements for disabled people, so most good impact assessments are likely to require action to be taken to bring about greater disability equality.
What are design and access statements?
Most development needs planning permission. This helps local authorities manage change in their areas for the benefit of the public.
But they need to understand the likely effect of any proposals to make well informed and balanced decisions.
Design and access statements (statements for short) can help provide a lot of the information needed. They should help to make the planning applications system work more smoothly.
Statements are documents that explain the design thinking behind a planning application.
For example, they should show that the person applying for permission (the applicant) has thought carefully about how everyone, including disabled people, older people and very young children, will be able to use the places they want to build.
Statements should include a written description and justification of the planning application.
Sometimes photos, maps and drawings may be needed to further illustrate the points made.
They will be available alongside the application for anyone to see, so should avoid jargon or overly technical language.
It is important that they are written specifically for the application they accompany. They need not be very long, but the amount of detail they contain should reflect how complex the application is.
So, a statement for a major development is likely to be much longer than one for a single building.
In summary, statements:
• Accompany a planning application, but are not part of it
• Are needed with most types of application or material change of use
• Are also required for applications for listed building consent
• Need to explain and justify what is being applied for
Statements should explain the design principles and concepts that have informed the development and how access issues have been dealt with.
So, although there will be a design and an access component, you should not think of a design and access statement as two separate documents.
Much of the preliminary work that needs to be done for the design component will help inform the access component and vice versa. Additionally, the approach to inclusive access should not be limited to the access part of the statement – it should infuse the whole document.
How the physical characteristics of the scheme have been informed by a rigorous process that includes the following steps:
• What buildings and spaces will be used for
• How much would be built on the site.
How the buildings and public and private spaces will be arranged on the site, and the relationship between them and the buildings and spaces around the site.
How big the buildings and spaces would be (their height, width and length).
How open spaces will be treated to enhance and protect the character of a place.
What the building and spaces will look like, for example, building materials
The statement needs to include two potential aspects of access. That is not to say they are separate, and the statement should show that all access issues have been considered together.
Vehicular and transport links
Why the access points and routes have been chosen, and how the site responds to road layout and public transport provision.
How everyone can get to and move through the place on equal terms regardless of age, disability, ethnicity or social grouping.
Statements should demonstrate how development could create accessible and safe environments, including addressing crime and disorder and fear of crime.
These may be particularly relevant to address under layout and landscaping themes. Early consultation with police will help identify key issues in your local area, and measures to help address these.
Statements may include other information as well, either because applicants think it is relevant or because local policies say they should, or because applicants want to include other information that they feel is relevant.
For example, statements can explain the energy performance of buildings or whether they meet design standards such as Lifetime Homes or Building for Life Standards, or they may explain how the public has influenced the plan.
Disability Rights Commission