Government committee calls for new access regulations on buildings

GOV Houses of ParliamentPhoto by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The Commons Women and Equalities Committee has advised the government that it needs to bring in new building regulations which consider accessibility solutions and include better accessibility design.

The select committee, which was appointed to examine the government’s performance on equalities issues, recommended that the government should do more to make the public realm and public buildings more accessible by updating regulations for new buildings, which are currently based on a 16-year-old standard.

In a new advisory report, the group also recommended that the government, as a minimum, ensures compliance with existing regulations by proactively setting out inclusive design and accessibility to be required by all public-funded projects.

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If the government acts on the recommendation it could mean a change to the design and installation processes access firms have to follow.

“it is rather shocking that inclusive design is not integral from the outset”

The report also advised that inclusive design principles be incorporated into the training of built environment specialists such as planners, designers, architects and building inspectors.

The College of Occupational Therapists’ Specialist Section in Housing that “it is rather shocking that inclusive design is not integral from the outset” of professional training. From this omission they concluded that “providing barrier-free environments for disabled and older people is not seen as important or attractive.”

Meanwhile, according to the report the Leicester Disabled People’s Access Group suggested that failures in training had led to built environment professionals ‘adapting for disability’, rather than designing inclusively.

The Government cited a number of initiatives designed to address this, chief among them the ‘construction industry action plan,’ led by professionals within the industry “to evaluate how inclusive design can be better integrated in industry practice.”

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