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Fri February 26 2021

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Designers challenged to improve access

22 Oct 14 The government is backing an initiative to encourage building designers and urban planners to ensure buildings, streets and public spaces are accessible to all, regardless of their physical capabilities.

Communities minister Stephen Williams met with key professional bodies on Monday and challenged them to do more to improve inclusivity.

He said that the various needs of the people expected to use these facilities were too often an afterthought, and that the needs of disabled or elderly people should be taken into consideration at the design stage.

Mr Williams 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.”

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The round table meeting was hosted by the Design Council-Cabe (formerly the Commission on Architecture & the Built Environment). Its chief executive, John Mather, said: “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.”

Among the professional bodies represented at the meeting were:

  • Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
  • Construction Industry Council (CIC)
  • Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)
  • Planning Officers Society (POS)
  • Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT)
  • British Institute of Facilities Managers
  • Building Control Alliance (BCA)
  • Landscape Institute
  • Design Council-Cabe
  • English Heritage
  • Access Association
  • National Register of Access Consultants (NRAC)

The group has been asked to develop an action plan and report back in February 2015 on progress.

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