www.communities.gov.uk

Accessing our buildings

Communities and Local Government: HQ buildings accessibility statement

Introduction

Communities and Local Government is committed to ensuring its HQ estate provides work places which are open and accessible to all staff, visitors and other building users. This Accessibility Statement is intended to demonstrate Communities and Local Government's aim to make its HQ Estate buildings both inclusive and accessible, now and in the future, and how this will be achieved.

Objective

Communities and Local Government aims to achieve the principles of the inclusive environment throughout its HQ Estate buildings to allow disabled people to participate fully as workers and visitors.

Scope

This statement covers the following building:

Eland House

Address:
Communities and Local Government
Eland House
Bressenden Place
London SW1E 5DU

Other HQ buildings are managed by other Government departments who have their own Accessibility Statements in place.

Inclusive design

People are different in their needs and the way in which they use the built environment. An inclusive environment recognises and accommodates these differences in a way that is universal. An inclusive design provides a solution for everyone. The principle of an inclusive environment will be one that is:

  • easily used by all people without undue effort, special treatment or separation
  • able to offer people the freedom to choose how they access the buildings and allow them to participate equally in all activities it may host
  • able to embrace diversity and difference
  • safe
  • fit for purpose
  • compliant with legal and best practice

The use of access statements

For all development and major refurbishment projects on the HQ Estate, the project team shall adopt the principles of the inclusive environment throughout the project's life, and shall prepare an Access Statement for each project.

Normally an access consultant chosen from the National Register of Access Consultants will be appointed to prepare and develop the Access Statement. The Access Statement shall be more than just a statement that Part M of the Building Regulations and British Standards has been complied with. It will explain how the needs of disabled people and everyone else are incorporated into the general design and arrangements of the scheme, and how the principles of inclusive design have been implemented.

The Access Statement will commence at the project brief stage as an expression of Communities and Local Government's intent, and expand as the project develops to encompass planning, design, management and maintenance requirements.

The Access Statement will be used to demonstrate to the various statutory bodies that Communities and Local Government has fully considered access requirements and how it shall meet them and that it recognises its legal duties.

Small and medium-sized projects and moves will also address the needs of disabled staff in a co-ordinated way. This will be recorded in a similar access statement. Team managers will be contacted by the Project manager well in advance to identify any disabled staff that need reasonable adjustments and prepare for their IT, equipment and space/light requirements before the relocation takes place. Advice from the Reasonable Adjustment specialist in EDU or the Occupational Health Policy Adviser in HR will be sought where no medical assessment exits.

Sources of advice and guidance

The Access Statement will clearly identify the sources of advice and guidance used both in its production and for the design of the project in question. The following publications and documents were consulted in the writing of this guidance:

  • Disability Rights Commission Publications
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995 as amended by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005
  • Building Regulations; Approved Document M, Access to and use of buildings
  • BS 8300 Design of Buildings and their Approaches to Meet the Needs of Disabled People - A Code of Practice
  • Communities and Local Government Disability Policy
  • Communities and Local Government Staff Handbook

Content of access statements

Communities and Local Government considers that the following subjects should be considered as part of any access statement, and where applicable has provided details of its general policy and estate issues relevant to the considerations. The following list is not definitive and should be considered as a guide to the various elements of a design.

Communities and Local Government continues to improve access to its estate with an ongoing programme of improvement works identified in access audits carried out in 2001/2.

Approaches to building

Communities and Local Government is not responsible for pavements and areas beyond its demise however the approaches to the HQ buildings are the areas of land from the boundary of the site up to the building itself. Consideration will be given where possible to the access pathways and use of various surface materials, dropped kerbs, visually contrasting signage, tactile paving, parking and drop off points.

Entrances

Access routes will be located in a logical relationship to the building entrances. Consideration should be given to signage, lighting, contrast etc. Ideally automated entrance doors should be provided. Any security measures should be located in a position assessible to all users. Where required, reception areas will be strategically positioned in clear view of the entrance door, well signed and easily identifiable.

The reception areas will be designed to maximise inclusion, both actual and perceived. The reception desk height, finishes, signage and lighting will all be maintained in accordance with the latest design guidance on access.

Security barriers should be as easy to use for disabled users as they are for able bodied users.

Space requirements

The layout of the workplace will be adjusted to provide at least the minimum standard required to meet current and future disability needs. The general circulation space will be suitable for wheelchair users along corridors and into common working areas. Individual workstations will be both accessible and tailored to meet the individual needs of a user with a disability.

Specific access

It is recognised that some staff or building users may have or acquire specialist adaptations or arrangements to assist with a disability and that these may in-turn necessitate modifications to their workplace. These adaptations will include specialist equipment and/or software, seating for a facilitator or sign language interpreter, etc. Advice on what is necessary will be sought from the Reasonable Adjustment specialist in EDU or the Occupational Health Policy Adviser in HR.

Reasonable adjustments

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, in its HQ buildings Communities and Local Government will:

  • make reasonable adjustments for disabled people, such asproviding extra help or making changes to the way accommodation is presented and provide modifications to an individual's workspace
  • make reasonable adjustments to the physical features of the premises to overcome physical barriers to access
  • provide additional space, within a team area and access to a quiet area or a separate office area if specified as a requirement

Meeting rooms

The majority of Communities and Local Government's meeting rooms are already accessible to wheelchair users, and we provide one room in each of our main buildings with induction loop equipment to assist those with hearing impairments.

Tea points

Tea points have been improved and made fully accessible. Suitable access has been improved to amenities such as restaurants, libraries and social facilities and where reasonably practical access to other units of accommodation provided to ensure integration.

Internal design and layout

The layout and design of internal spaces in the HQ buildings will take into account different access needs with regard to:

  • Corridors
  • Stairs
  • Ramps
  • Handrails
  • Lifts
  • Offices
  • Meeting rooms, class rooms and lecture theatres
  • Accessible WCs
  • Furnishings and fittings
  • Surfaces
  • Signage
  • Lighting
  • Colour tone and contrast

Emergency egress

An accessible environment is one in which people not only enter and use safely but one in which they can reach a place of safety in the event of an emergency.

HQ buildings are provided with evacuation lifts, which will be operated by trained staff in the case of emergency. Refuge areas have been provided throughout as a back up system regardless of whether or nott he lifts meet BS 5588: part 5.

A Personal Evacuation Plan (PEEP) will be produced and agreed for each member of staff or regular building user by the line manager and member of staff or regular building user working together. This will be generic in the case of visitors. Each member of staff will be informed of this during their induction and line managers will be given guidance on request by ISD's Health and Safety Advisor, the Reasonable Adjustments Contact Officer in the EDU or external agency as required. Fire Alert Systems are available for hearing impaired staff and visitors and this facility is advertised in reception. This will be generic in the case of visitors.

Technology

The use of technology to assist the visually and hearing impaired will be provided wherever the demand is identified and it is reasonable to do so, including such items as:

  • talking information systems
  • electronic orientation systems
  • induction loops and infrared systems
  • audio description devices
  • text phones and minicoms

Car parking

Car parking will always be provided to staff and visitors who have Disabled Persons Parking Badges and to those approved following personal application to Human Resources for special circumstances. Full access will be provided from the car park to the reception area. Battery charging and wheelchair storage facilities will be provided if needed in the car park area.

Public transport

Consideration will be given to the proximity to public transport of any new premises.

Comments and complaints

Disabled staff and visitors are invited to make comments on any aspect of access at Communities and Local Government HQ accommodation, this can be made via:

  • The Building Services Helpdesk on 0303 444 3333

Our staff will take a proactive approach to solving access problems and undertake training on the DDA as part of their regular development.

Communities and Local Government's building managers also fulfil the role of Disability Access Contact Officers (DACO). They will log access queries, respond within 5 days and alert the Reasonable Adjustments Contact Officer in the Equality and Diversity Unit if the issue cannot be resolved quickly. The Disability Access Contact Officer will take the lead for Communities and Local Government in identifying disabled staff affected by any office move in advance. This will be done with the assistance of Equality and Diversity Unit, Human Resources and Line Managers. This will enable their particular reasonable adjustments to be integrated into the relocation planning to prevent disruption to their work and potential discrimination. The DACO's role and contact details will be displayed clearly in reception and the lift lobby with other key Office contacts and notified to the disabled staff network.

Conclusion

This guidance note has been produced to demonstrate the Communities and Local Government's commitment to ensuring that the estate is both open and accessible to all. It is not in itself specific to any one building.

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