The Building Conservation Directory 2023

120 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 C AT H E D R A L C O M M U N I C AT I O N S The Equality Act does not override planning legislation so the need for listed building consent is not affected. The possibilities should be carefully weighed against what is both feasible, and compliant with legislation. The Equality Act is concerned with people, not buildings. In addition to physical access within the historic built environment generally, we also need to be aware of the broad range of inequalities affecting access requirements to buildings, places and information. Duties fall under the following categories: • employers • service providers • volunteers • education institutions. All employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled staff. Historic England suggests that it may be more cost-effective to consider improvements as part of a programme of planned refurbishment. Those who own, manage or occupy historic buildings in England may also have duties under the service provider category, which differs from the duty towards employees in that it is anticipatory. Service providers do not address the needs of specific individuals, but instead must consider the needs of disabled people in general and seek to accommodate them in a wide variety of ways. Volunteers also fall under this category, as the guidance states that providing someone with a volunteering opportunity counts as providing them with a service. Lastly, institutions providing education and training for students over 16 years old have an anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled students. Most work involving material alterations to a building’s external appearance will need planning permission, and listed building consent is required for any works of demolition, alteration or extension which affect the character of a listed building (this applies both internally and externally). Temporary access arrangements made in advance of permanent solutions may also need listed building consent if they affect the character of the building, but portable ramps are excluded. Scottish legislation and advice provide additional information for sites north of the border. PAN 78: Planning and Building Standards Advice Note: Inclusive Design advises that the Scottish Executive and local authorities were required in 2006 to produce Disability Equality Schemes (DES), explaining how they addressed the issue of barriers faced by disabled people in their daily lives. The requirement for a DES means for instance, that staff within local authority planning, roads and building standards departments must assess the likely impact of their proposed policies and practices.² This ties in with the public sector equality duty from the 2010 Equality Act, which applied to key organisations such as local authorities. The following documents were published prior to 2010: • Scottish Planning Policy I (SPP) The Planning System – which encourages the promotion of social justice, considering the needs of all communities and interests • Scottish Planning Policy 17 and Planning Advice Note 75 (PAN) both titled Planning for Transport – equality obligations should be taken into account in planning developments, particular attention should be paid to socially excluded groups • PAN 68: Design Statements – makes reference to accessibility in the list of issues which should be explained within a design statement. The Historic Environment Scotland Act came into effect in 2014. The overall intention was to further streamline the system, aligning scheduled monument, listed building and planning systems where possible, while retaining the same level of protection for the historic environment. Secondary legislation accompanying the HES Act also supports delivery of the Scottish government’s National Outcomes, which include ‘taking pride in a strong, fair and inclusive national identity’. As part of the new requirements, all relevant listed building consent applications must be accompanied by a disability access statement.³ Although the building regulations are not always applicable to listed buildings, they are relevant where changes are being made. For England and Wales guidance on meeting the requirements stated in the Equality Act are outlined in Building Regulations 2010: Approved Document M (2004). For Scotland sections 4.1 and 4.2 of the technical handbooks provide guidance on achieving the standards set in the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004. A failure to meet the guidance may not automatically mean discrimination however, as there may be other ways to provide reasonable adjustments depending on the specific situation. The Building Regulations Approved Document M (2010) states the importance of clearly communicating how the chosen approach to making disability adjustments demonstrates compliance with the requirements of its regulations: • Where an alternative solution is proposed: the applicant must demonstrate that the solution is appropriate and meets the requirements. This should include the use of appropriate research evidence or reference to recognised British standards. • Applicants should engage with building control bodies at the earliest possible stage to identify key issues and risks, and to discuss the best way to demonstrate the access strategy for the building work taking place. • The access strategy can be provided by a registered access consultant who specialises in disabled access in the historic environment. See National Register of Access Consultants (NRAC) • Although a written access strategy does not need to be submitted with a building control application, it may still be useful. The key is to ensure that applicants and building control bodies are agreed as to the appropriate level of provision in the completed building work. • Ensuring agreement can be achieved by having a conversation and recording the outcome. For larger, more complex works, or where there are significant existing constraints, a The wall walk at Lincoln Castle, designed by Arrol Architects with access consultant Jane Toplis, was made accessible by introducing a series of new bridges, link structures, and a new external stair turret and lift. (Photo: Jane Toplis)