It is more cost effective to make the environment accessible to all at the early stages of design. Doing so will also result in a more attractive design.
The Planning Service promotes Access for All through our Access Officer in a number of ways.
Through the planning application procedure we control development to ensure it is of good quality and complies with the Unitary Development Plan. To comply with the Plan development must ensure the highest standards of accessibility and inclusion.
To help you with this the Council has adopted a Supplementary Planning Document on Access for All which shows the main requirements that a development proposal will need to meet to show that the design meets these standards.
Building design and construction is governed by the Building Regulations. Part M of the Regulations sets minimum legal standards for access and use of buildings by all building users, including disabled people. Part M covers new buildings, extensions and alterations to existing buildings and certain changes of use. Meeting the requirements of Part M may affect the size and design of a proposal and it is vital this is taken into account at the early design stage. Further information is available on The Planning Portal (external link).
Wigan Council is committed to creating an accessible environment and Access Grants are available to encourage the alteration of buildings to enable access for all. These grants are available primarily to voluntary and community organisations for improvement works to sites or buildings to which members of the public would normally expect to have access.
Advice is given on site about the design of any potential schemes and the process of applying for a grant. Grants will contribute towards the cost of work required to make a site or building more accessible for disabled people. Access grants are not available to fund work that has started or has been completed. For further details contact the Small grants in Wigan to support community and voluntary groups.
Disability Discrimination Legislation
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 introduced measures aimed at ending the discrimination which many disabled people faced. Now the Equality Act 2010 requires that anyone providing a service to the public, such as a shop or restaurant, think ahead and make reasonable changes to their buildings to improve access.
Reasonable changes are required wherever disabled customers or potential customers would otherwise be at a substantial disadvantage. What is reasonable will depend on individual circumstances.
Whilst we can not give detailed guidance on the Act, we can give advice on the physical aspects of making changes to the built environment and buildings to try to improve access.
Wigan Access Committee
The Access Officer also works closely with Wigan Access Committee to promote improvements in access to existing buildings and the built environment. The Committee is a voluntary group and registered charity that is working for access for everybody within the Borough. It is consulted and involved in major schemes such as the design of the Wigan Life Centre and the restoration project in Mesnes Park. In addition the Committee’s views are sought on strategies such as that developed for the Wigan Town Centre Street Scene.
There are Shopmobility schemes in Wigan and Leigh town centres. In Wigan it is located in Mesnes Terrace Car and in Leigh the office is in a purpose built building on Gas Street Car Park at the rear of the Spinning Gate Shopping Centre. These locations enable easy access for Ring and Ride, taxis and people dropping off/picking up as well as having disabled persons car parking bays adjacent to the office.
Shopmobility provides a range of manual and powered wheelchairs and three and four wheeled scooters to help people with limited mobility shop.