Guidance For Producing Design And Access Statements - Practice Note 18

An access statement is an explanation of ‘how access and facilities for people with disabilities, and others, have been addressed in a particular development scheme’. The statement will allow planning officers and consultees, such as Disability Action Wyre Forest, to better understand the design process which has led to the submitted proposal.

The statement will form an integral component in determining an application and may be cited in conditions or reasons for refusal.

Background To Planning Access Statements

The Government in Planning Policy Statement 1 ‘Delivering Sustainable Development’ (PPS1) sets out the overarching planning policies on the delivery of sustainable development through the planning system. Good design plays a fundamental role in achieving this. Part of the function of good design is to facilitate and enable social inclusion. 

This means recognising the different needs of all people and the variations in the ways they use the built environment. Even though an environment is ‘accessible’ it does not mean it is ‘inclusive’ because it can lead to the provision of separate facilities and therefore segregate people because they have differing abilities.

Social inclusion recognises that people are not disabled by an impairment, but by the barriers and structures present in society and introduces the concept of a single solution for everyone.

The requirement for an access statement encourages access issues to be addressed at an early stage in the development process.

The Wyre Forest District Council Adopted Local Plan (January 2004) applies the guidance and advice contained in PPS1 to the local context through the policies in it and Supplementary Planning Guidance on Design Quality (July 2004).

Local Plan policies of particular relevance are as follows:-

  • D.1a) Design Quality
  • D.9 ii, vi, vii) Design for Movement
  • D.15e) Car Park Design
  • D.19 Design for Adaptability
  • TR.7 Provision for Pedestrians
  • TR.17 ii) Car Parking Standards and Provision
  • LR.5 i) Informal Countryside Facilities
  • CY.2 iv) Community Facilities

The compilation of an access statement should begin at the pre-planning stage.  It is intended to be a ‘living document’ that grows in detail as the project proceeds.  In this way it will help to provide an audit trail to demonstrate whether particular matters have been considered adequately and with the benefit of the client and any future occupiers where such matters are material to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

The Building Regulations 2000, Approved Document M, ‘Access to and use of buildings’ carries the principles forward into the next stage of the development process.

In December 2006 the council adopted its Disability Equality Scheme 2006-2009 which sets out its commitment to embedding the principles of equality and diversity for all into its policies and practices.  This practice note should be read in the context of the Scheme as it applies to the implementation of equality of access and the design of developments and related land use considerations.