Inclusive Design Advice from Briefing to Occupancy

The old adage a penny spent now will save a pound later is as true for inclusive design as anything; at JSA, we prefer to be involved from the inception of a project. Amongst other things the legislation requires reasonable measures and relates to the function of business undertaken. There will naturally be differing levels of inclusion standards required.

Ensuring that your premises and operational policies are accessible, will not only be beneficial to facilitating a service but will rapidly become a firm requirement when sourcing, building or adapting premises.

When initially undertaking a project, we would complete a strategic analysis (risk assessment/added value assessment) to consider your liabilities in regards to service delivery, education and your duties to employees. This relates to usage, not the building design. Understanding how, when and who accesses your building, will help identify the risk and benefit. Tested against the diversity of people will present a picture for future stages.

We would then evaluate current operational policies and practices already adopted. At this point an Access Statement outlining the companies approach to inclusion should be implemented. This statement is a mechanism to agree and start the development of a brief.

Part of the plan will be to research and agree appropriate performance standards for your circumstances. Appropriate design criteria should be identified for the purposes of auditing, premises agreements, or, design reviews of new works and projects. These can be from a variety of sources including:

  • Building Regulations B, M and K
  • BS8300 & BS9999
  • Accessible Sports Stadia
  • Inclusive Mobility
  • Sign Design Guide
  • Etc ...

For existing buildings an audit may be required. This would be tailored to your specific requirements, the location, usage, planned works and any special issues, such as, listed status, etc, with a prioritisation schedule and a recording mechanism.

For new buildings or planned alteration works, there are a number of key stages:

  • A brief would be developed which reflects the performance standards agreed and the long term inclusion goals.
  • Ensure the suitability of the design team, including either identifying an inclusion mentor or employing an Access Consultant from the start.
  • In addition, identify and confirm the sequence and proposed timing of approvals, relevant agencies and related performance criteria. This will feed into the process and may have a fundamental effect upon any changes required. For example:
    • Planning permission
    • Building regulations
    • Fire and means of escape
    • Licensing
    • Funding
  • Ensure that inclusion is an item on every Design Team Meeting agenda and every stage closure report.
  • Design reviews should be undertaken at all stages and when any changes occur.
  • Detailed reviews of important components and specifications.
  • Provide close out reports (Access Statements), similar to those used for CDM which highlight decisions agreed and outstanding matters for the next stage.
  • Undertake a site visit two weeks prior to any phase handover to ensure that there are no errors on site.
  • Provide a close out report at the end of the project which identifies measures put in place, any management requirements, including future works. It could also include maintenance policies and guidance for assisting in the fire evacuation strategy; make it what you want it to be.

The final point to mention, although it may be one of the first things you implement, is consultation. See http://jsa.mbbhq.co.uk/services/consultation