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Infrastructure Bill missing opportunity to put accessibility at the heart of place-making

19 January 2015

Following the Public Bill Committee meeting to discuss the Infrastructure Bill in the House of Commons last Thursday (15 January), the Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA) and Habinteg have expressed disappointment over the Government’s failure to create a duty to ensure accessibility is at the front of decision makers’ minds when preparing local plans in England.

The Public Bill Committee meeting on the Infrastructure Bill brought forward a proposed amendment which was tabled by Roberta Blackman Woods MP, and suggested inserting a clause stating that local development plans must include policies designed to secure inclusive design and accessibility for the maximum number of people.

Following a short debate, the Committee voted against including the amendment by nine votes to six. 

TCPA Head of Policy Dr Hugh Ellis said:

“Naturally we are disappointed that the Government has failed to use this chance to ensure that accessibility is at the heart of place-making. The amendment which received overwhelming support from a number of organisations, had the potential to have transformation impact on the lives of the elderly and disabled people, ensuring that the homes that they live in are fit for purpose from the onset. 

“There is a wide consensus, and clear evidence to show that we are failing to ready ourselves for the health, housing and social care needs of our population.  The falling of the amendment represents a missed opportunity, however we must do all in our power to ensure that the whole built environment is accessible, inclusive and can be used and enjoyed by everyone.  We will continue to work closely with Habinteg to push the case for creating housing that is easily adaptable, exchangeable, value for money over a long period and well suited to the needs of a broad range of the populations.”     

Habinteg Chief Executive Paul Gamble said:

“This amendment would have placed accessibility at the centre of local development plans for new homes and neighbourhoods, so we’re disappointed that the proposal has not been adopted.

“It is vital that access is properly considered by local authorities, designers and developers as they seek to deliver homes and neighbourhoods that all local people can enjoy. Ensuring development plans have a duty to consider access from the start would have been a real achievement that the Infrastructure Bill could have delivered with this simple amendment.

“We will continue to work with the TCPA and others to make the case for accessibility and inclusion in our built environment.”

The following organisations supported the proposed amendment to create a duty to ensure that accessibility is at the front of decision makers’ minds when preparing their local plans in England:
Habinteg Housing
Age UK
Care and Repair
Disability Rights UK
Golden Lane Housing
International Longevity Centre
Leonard Cheshire Disability
National Housing Federation
Papworth Trust

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