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DCAN 11(Draft): Access for all - Designing for an Accessible Environment
6.0 Improving Access to Historic Buildings and Sites

6.1 The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) intends that people with disabilities should be able to use historic buildings and sites which are open to the public in the same way as everyone else. Following the introduction of this legislation a number of such buildings and sites have already been successfully adapted to make them accessible to disabled people.
6.2 The duties contained in the DDA however can pose great challenges to the owners and managers of historic buildings and sites, but with consideration and attention to detail, the Department believes improved access can be achieved without detrimental effect on their special character.
6.3 The provisions of the DDA do not overrule existing statutory requirements and any alteration which affects the character of a listed building needs listed building consent. Similarly all works affecting a scheduled monument require scheduled monument consent. Accordingly careful consideration of the impact of improved access for disabled people on these important features of the built heritage is needed at an early stage.
6.4 Where a proposal is made which seeks to provide or improve access for a disabled person the Department will expect this to be carried out in a manner consistent with the special architectural, historic or archaeological character of the property or site.
6.5 The importance of allowing people with disabilities dignified and easy access to and within listed buildings is recognised in PPS 6: Planning Archaeology and the Built Heritage which states:
“If access requirements are treated in an integrated and systematic way and a flexible and pragmatic approach is taken, then it is normally possible to plan suitable access for people with disabilities without compromising a listed building’s special interest.”
6.6 The Department would promote the concept of independent access whereby people with disabilities can avoid being carried, lifted or assisted. Wherever possible, historic buildings and sites should be as easily accessed using the primary entrance by disabled people as by others.
6.7 The DDA recognises however that full access to all buildings and sites may not always be possible and the duty of service providers is to take reasonable measures. In relation to historic buildings and sites the Department believes that a satisfactory solution to providing suitable access for all can almost always be found so long as imaginative and innovative approaches are explored fully.
6.8 Early consultation with the Built Heritage section of the Environment and Heritage Service will assist in resolving any possible conflict.
6.9 The Department would also draw attention to the following publications which contain helpful and detailed advice on the provision of access to historic buildings and sites:
  • ‘Overcoming the Barriers: Providing Physical Access to Historic Buildings’ Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments (2002). This can be accessed at www.wales.gov.uk Opens link in a new browser window
  • ‘Access to the Built Heritage: Advice on the Provision of Access for People with Disabilities to Historic Sites Open to the Public’ Historic Scotland (1996)
  • ‘Easy Access to Historic Properties’ English Heritage (1995)
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