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Disability and the built environment: how to improve planning?

23 November 2016

The Women and Equalities Committee hears about the planning system and how it may limit the accessibility and inclusivity of the built environment for disabled people.

Purpose of the session

The Committee will hear from two panels: the first made up of those with a role in developing and implementing the planning system. The second panel will include those involved with the training and development of built environment professionals on inclusive design and accessibility.

Key themes likely to be examined include:

  • The effectiveness of Government planning policy/ the National Planning Policy Framework in creating an accessible and inclusive environment
  • The extent to which local planning policy is/can be used to create an accessible and inclusive environment, and if local authorities have the tools that they need to do so
  • Where the creation of an accessible and inclusive environment sits within the priorities of national and local government
  • How built environment professionals develop the necessary levels of knowledge around inclusive design and accessibility
  • Good practice and gaps in training and advice.

Chair's comments

Committee Chair, Maria Miller MP, said:

"Last month we heard some stark personal accounts of the challenges disabled people face accessing buildings and public spaces. Some of these problems were attributed to the planning system. Today we want to find out where problems lie and what can be done to address them. We'll be asking whether Government policy does enough to promote accessibility, how big a part commercial viability plays in developing accessible building design, and whether the current level of training and advice for built environment professionals is sufficient."


Wednesday 23 November 2016, Grimond Room, Portcullis House

At 9.45am

  • Steve Quartermain CBE, Chief Planner, Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Mary Travers, Group Manager (Plans), The Planning Inspectorate
  • Councillor Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board and Leader of Warwickshire County Council, Local Government Association
  • Trudi Elliott, Chief Executive, The Royal Town and Planning Institute

At 10.30am

  • Clare Devine, Executive Director of Architecture and the Built Environment, The Design Council
  • Julie Fleck, Project Lead, Built Environment Professional Education Project Board
  • Simon Turton, Chair, National Register of Access Consultants
  • Stephen Ware, The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)


The accessibility of our homes, buildings and public spaces is an issue not just for those of us with a permanent physical disability. With an ageing population, it is likely that more and more of us will experience reduced mobility in our lifetime. There are also other needs to consider, such as mental health. In this inquiry we explore the extent to which those needs are considered and accommodated in our built environment, and ask whether more could be done to increase the accessibility and inclusivity of both new and existing properties and spaces.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto