Planning Portal

Buildings And Public Spaces Must Have 'Access For All' Says Angela Smith

Published on Thu, 24 Jul 2003
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Angela Smith MP, today invited the public to comment on a new guide, entitled ‘Access for All’, about making buildings and public spaces more accessible.
In launching the consultation exercise, Angela Smith said: "Our towns and cities were not designed with the needs of people with disabilities in mind. Yet one in five people in Northern Ireland now has some form of disability.
"Kerbs, steps and narrow entrances to buildings – all these features create physical barriers preventing disabled people from, accessing jobs, services, housing and entertainment.
"I want to promote a more accessible and inclusive built environment. The new guidance produced by DOE seeks to increase public awareness about the needs of disabled people and encourage better access for all. It is a practical example of the Government’s support for The European Year of People with Disabilities.
"Better access will help not just disabled people. All those with mobility difficulties will benefit – the elderly, parents with small children in pushchairs or simply those carrying heavy shopping. For business this makes good economic sense as well as being socially responsible.
"I would encourage everyone to read this guide – in particular disability groups and all those involved in the design, development, management and maintenance of buildings.
"It is important to remember nearly accessible is not really accessible."

Notes to Editors

  1. Consultation Draft (Revised) Development Control Advice Note 11 (DCAN 11) is entitled ‘Access for All – Designing for an Accessible Environment’.
  2. It is one of a series of Advice Notes which provide non-statutory supplementary planning guidance in support of the Department’s planning policies. DCAN 11 is intended to complement the Department’s recently updated policy on the creation of an accessible environment contained in consultation draft Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS 3) ‘Access, Movement and Parking’ published in December 2002. See Press release on website Opens link in a new browser window
  3. PPS 3 aims to ensure that all development proposals are designed to help create an accessible environment and take account of the specific needs of disabled people and others with impaired mobility. It focuses specifically on buildings open to the public.
  4. DCAN 11 seeks to increase awareness among building owners and managers, architects, surveyors and developers about their statutory and legal obligations regarding the needs of disabled people. Information about undertaking an access audit is included together with advice regarding improved access to historic buildings and sites.
  5. The DCAN also provides supplementary design guidance for developers and their agents aimed at creating a more accessible environment for all. It has been drawn up following discussions with Disability Action, the Equality Commission and the Chief Building Control Officers Group among others.
  6. The guide reflects the Government’s commitment to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 by encouraging applicants for planning permission to consider disabled access to the built environment when bringing forward development proposals. Emphasis is placed on early consultation between those involved in designing for access with disabled users, access consultants and disability access groups.
  7. Both DCAN 11 and PPS 3 can be accessed on this website. Advice and information on the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 can be obtained from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland Website: Opens link in a new browser window or email
  8. The European Commission has adopted 2003 as ‘The European Year of Disabled People’. For more details of Northern Ireland’s participation in the year contact Opens link in a new browser window or email
  9. It is estimated that about 20% of the population of Northern Ireland has some form of permanent or temporary disability. This represents some 340,000 people (source: Equality Commission for Northern Ireland 2001).
  10. A copy of this draft advice note can be obtained from:
  11. Planning Service Headquarters
    Clarence Court
    10 – 18 Adelaide Street
    BT2 8GB.
  12. The closing date for comments is 28th November 2003.
  13. For further information, contact Philip Maguire, DOE Press Office on 028 9054 0013, mobile 07713 652815, e-mail
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