Building Control are responsible for making sure that building regulations are met in new and refurbished public buildings but we have discovered that many continue to have very little understanding of disabled access requirements that are actually required of the Equality Act 2010 and they constantly pass buildings with inadequate access, poor non-compliant disabled WC’s, no or badly placed disabled parking and much more.
Why are they not understanding these basic requirement after 22 years since the so called laws of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) came out?
As with many things this all comes down to money, years ago most Councils had what was known as an “Access Officer” this was a specialised officer that worked in Building Control and would oversee all planning regulations relating to disability, these were common between 1995 and around 2005, since then very few councils have an Access Officer after realising that the then DDA had very little clout.
Although Councils are responsible for ensure disabled access issues are met in new and existing builds they are failing miserably even though the documents are right in front of their eyes. Each and every Building Control department will be fully aware of Access to and use of buildings: Approved Document M (Building regulation in England to ensure that people are able to access and use buildings and their facilities.) the very document that states what should be in place to comply with disability access laws but still they fail to implement it.
On the other side of the coin there have been cases where Building Control have implement unreasonable requests that almost makes it impossible or involves sky high building costs for builders and planners to meet the requirement that Building Control have incorrectly interpreted because they have no or little understanding of “Reasonable Adjustment” as required by the previous DDA and the now Equality Act 2010.
Access All Areas are an established disability access audit company that fully understand the requirement of the Act and regularly assist with disabled planning issues and because of the volume of issues arising between Building Control and developers and builders being told to undertake unrealistic changes the now offer help with Building Control access issues.
We often complain about the lack of disabled access or poor disabled facilities and immediately blame the shop, hotel or business directly and in most cases the non compliance is their fault because they have not addressed the issues. However, next time you have an issue with disabled access in a new or recently refurbished shop, hotel, restaurant or any other public service why don’t you contact your local Council because in any new or refurbished building it will have to be passed by Building Control and if the access does not meet the requirement of Part M, is inadequate or deemed discriminatory then the buck must surly stop at Building Control and alternately the Council involved.
We will never solve the issues of poor or inadequate disabled access in this country until each and every local Council ensures that the building regulations are met and met correctly.