The District Council takes seriously its statutory and other obligations to promote the interests of access for disabled people. The provision of good access can be a vital issue in deciding whether or not to grant permission.
The District Council, through its Access Officer, who is also the Building Control Manager, works closely with local groups, businesses and other interested parties.
New Building Regulations recently brought in impose a range of requirements. These make sure that when buildings are erected, extended, altered or their use changed, they are accessible and/or improved to allow people with a disability to have an opportunity to make full use of the built environment.
The Building Regulations contain specific requirements regarding access for disabled people to buildings. This includes:
- provision of toilets
- special audience seating where provided for the able-bodied
The provision of facilities to enable disabled people to use buildings is also necessary. This includes:
- the provision of ramps
- suitable width corridors
- disabled toilet facilities
- in some buildings the provision of a lift
Access for people with a disability is not just about wheelchairs, it covers a wide range of disabilities such as:
- walking impairments
The requirements of the regulations also extends to new dwellings and requires ramped access and level thresholds to the principal entrance door, together with an accessible toilet at ground floor level. The Council's Building Control Surveyors will be happy to discuss these issues.
For businesses the issue of providing a more accessible environment is brought clearly into focus by Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 - Access to Goods and Services in October 2004. This Act makes requirements on all providers of goods and services (i.e. village halls, churches, shops, leisure facilities etc.) that they should make sure they have made (where practicable) adjustments to how they provide their services to reduce or eliminate discrimination against disabled people.