Alison gave a presentation on this issue to the BPF meeting in January 2011. At Redland Green steps have been rebuilt to ‘DDA standards’ but without any consideration for the visual impact and without proper consideration as to whether they were needed. Since the work (as with most work in parks by the council) did not need planning permission there had been no opportunity for residents to have a say in the design.
Following a meeting with Bristol Parks we have agreed a procedure will be put in place so that any new works proposed in parks and green spaces will only happen after proper consultation with Park Groups. This will include works undertaken by other parts of the Council such as the Cycling City team or highways for example.
While law says that the needs of everyone including the disabled should be considered in any project it is important to realise that there is no law that says that steps or ramps have to be built to a particular standard. Work has to include measures that will improve access to the extent that they are are reasonable in the circumstances. Appearance and cost are factors that can be taken into account in deciding what is reasonable.
Alison’s paper prepared for the BPF meeting can be seen here.
More information on disabled access and the BCC ‘Environmental Access Standards’ are on the BCC website.
‘By all reasonable means; inclusive access to the outdoors for Disabled people’ can be found on the Natural England website.