Why is the built environment often not inclusive?
Poorly designed buildings can create unnecessary barriers resulting in frustration, hardship and sometimes, complete exclusion for a significant proportion of our society, such as disabled people, older people and children.
Accessibility inside and outside at the Hub, Edinburgh
Some of the circumstances which may lead to planning permission being granted for buildings that have not been designed with inclusive design principles in mind include:
- Development plans which contain few, if any, requirements relating to inclusive design. As a result, planning officers and applicants may overlook the need to achieve inclusive environments.
- Many planning officers have a general lack of awareness of the law, and doubts over the respective roles of planning and building standards in promoting inclusive design. This is because many have had little or no formal training on access issues.
- Even where inclusive design has been considered, it is often specific to the building and does not include links with the surrounding public spaces and wider built environment. As a result, accessible buildings are sometimes located in inaccessible places.
The need to follow inclusive design principles should not be seen as reducing a developer's or designer's choice. The varying needs of people should be considered as an integral part of the design process.
It is also important that the needs of specific groups of people, whatever their age or sex, are considered too. For example, by placing washbasins in public toilets at a height that can be used by children, and providing accessible baby changing facilities.
This PAN provides advice on how to tackle some of these issues and improve the opportunities for creating more inclusive environments.