Jean Hewitt Consulting
Tel: 01707 251 246
& safe environments
"I can rest comfortably, knowing the work will be done with the utmost care."
Yenok Hatamian, DDA Projects, London Borough of Camden
"utterly reliable, extremely flexible and very effective."
Tony Jones, Principal. St Elizabeth's Specialist College, Hertfordshire
Over 95% of the UK's building stock is existing, i.e. they are not new build or recent developments, but older buildings spanning many decades of construction technology and design development. These buildings often present many physical barriers, as accessibility for disabled people was not generally considered at the time of design. An access audit generates an action plan of items or features which require adjustment or improvement and these are prioritised for action. Audits of existing buildings have to be realistic - recommendations for adjustments must be reasonable and in line with the use of the facility and the way services are provided. It is not always possible to meet current best practice in an existing building and looking purely at the building in isolation is simply not enough.
A holistic approach looks at management and maintenance solutions as well as those adjustments that may be beneficial or essential to the structure or fabric of the building. Wherever possible, several options for improving or removing the barrier are suggested so that clients can choose the most appropriate action for their resources and service delivery. Many findings may be relatively inexpensive to fulfil but requirement the investment of management time, training and new procedures.
A priority system is agreed to meet individual project needs, but is likely to include importance of the item, works classification, and suggested timing for completing the item.
Budget cost indicators are usually given for each recommendation, unless otherwise agreed.
Access Design Appraisals are desktop reviews of proposed new build, refurbishment or minor works items and because they are conducted before construction work starts, they provide an excellent opportunity to improve access at little or no extra cost as part of a scheme development.
Access design appraisals generally take less time than a building audit; time spent reviewing future plans and specifications as part of the design team is a cost effective investment for clients, as it will highlight features that should be changed prior to any commitment to construction. An access professional works alongside designers and architects to ensure the end result will provide an inclusive experience for future occupiers.
Unless a specific need is identified, all audits and design appraisals are pan-disability i.e. the review takes into account a full spectrum of potential user needs, spanning physical, sensory, cognitive, and learning impairments and considers the use and activities proposed for the building. This holistic approach to creating an inclusive environment ensures any weaknesses can be resolved.
Advice and recommendations are generally based upon current good practice and regulatory standards, which include:
The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 introduced the requirement for a Design and Access Statement (DAS) with the majority of planning applications. As an access professional retained to provide access input on planning applications in two London boroughs, Jean has the experience to develop access statements to reflect the design team’s efforts for submission with planning applications, or later for building control.
Building Regulations apply to all new build, extensions and major refurbishments as well as a change of use classification application. Since 2004, an Access Statement has been mandatory to support most building regulation applications where Part M applies and Jean is able to support applicants in preparing a suitably descriptive statement.
The list below outlines some of the areas that should be considered as part of an access assessment, whether this is an audit of an existing building or an appraisal of plans and specifications for a new build or refurbished facility.
Depending on the nature of the scheme, the following features may be reviewed:
Alternative formats are available
Telephone or text 07850 111 955
©Jean Hewitt Consulting Limited
Jean is based in Hertfordshire, but has clients throughout the UK.
Tel: 01707 251 246 - Click here to contact us