The Building Conservation Directory 2023

119 C AT H E D R A L C O M M U N I C AT I O N S T H E B U I L D I N G C O N S E R VAT I O N D I R E C T O R Y 2 0 2 3 | C E L E B R AT I N G 3 0 Y E A R S E X T E R N A L W O R K S 3.4 EQUAL ACCESS IN THE HISTORIC BUILT ENVIRONMENT JESSICA TOOZE T HE PASSING of the Equality Act in 2010 brought together and replaced pre-existing legislation for disabled people, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (the DDA). The new act clearly defines the responsibilities of businesses and public bodies where disability adjustments are concerned, and sets out the different ways in which it is unlawful to treat someone. In addition to protecting disabled people its scope has been extended to include ‘protected characteristics’ such as age, sex, race, religion and additional categories, and it applies in England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland where the DDA still applies. Adhering to access requirements under the Equality Act and protecting the fabric of historic buildings is a balance, the key phrase being ‘reasonable adjustments.’ The purpose of the duty to make reasonable adjustments is to provide a service as close as possible to the standard normally offered to the public.¹ Both Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland provide detailed guidance on making these adjustments. Easy Access to Historic Buildings is produced by Historic England, which includes information on funding, design principles and case studies, together with the relevant legislation. Historic Scotland published Managing Change in the Historic Environment: Accessibility 2010 , which explains how to apply the policies contained in the Scottish Historic Environment Policy (2009) and The Scottish Planning Policy (2010). A plan showing the elegant solution to the need for step-free access to Gloucester Cathedral by landscape architects New Leaf Studio in consultation with access consultant Jane Toplis. (Image: New Leaf Studio Ltd) Congregation members on the long sweeping ramp which climbs gently from level access on the right to the cathedral’s west entrance. (Photo: Jane Toplis)