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Inclusive Environments is a Design Council Cabe initiative to raise awareness about the importance of designing places that meet the needs of the diversity of people who want to use them. We believe designing and managing the built environment in an inclusive way is essential if we are to create a fair society and a sustainable future.
Why it matters
Office for National Statistics - National Population Projections, 2012-based Statistical Bulletin
The King's Fund - Exploring the system-wide costs of falls in older people in Torbay
Gov.uk Disability facts and figures
Gov.uk press release - High street could be boosted by £212 billion ‘purple pound’ by attracting disabled people and their families
Inclusive environments are places that work better for everybody - whether that place is a school, office, park, street, care home, bus route or train station. An inclusive approach to planning, design and management is an opportunity to use creativity and lateral thinking to make places that reflect the diversity of people who want to use them.
Inclusive environments are:
- Welcoming to everyone
- Responsive to people’s needs
- Intuitive to use
- Offer choice when a single design solution cannot meet all user needs
- Convenient so they can be used without undue effort or special separation and so that they maximise independence
Crucial to this is consultation with user groups, putting people who represent a diversity of age, ability, gender and community at the heart of the design process.
Inclusive design is the responsibility of everyone who works in the built environment: planners, those who commission new buildings and places, access consultants, designers, architects, engineers, surveyors, property owners and facilities managers.
An ageing population
The UK’s population is getting older. Housing provision needs to change to meet this rapidly growing demand. The HAPPI report identified wider benefits from developing good quality housing for older people including a reduction in health and social care costs, as well as freeing up of much-needed family housing.
The quality of the built environment has a significant role to play in tackling social disadvantage. Nine out of 10 people use and value parks and green spaces, but minority groups tend to have less local green space and it is of poorer quality.
An estimated £5.3bn in lost earnings is due to people who have dropped out of the workforce to take on caring responsibilities for older or disabled friends and family. Lifetime Homes is a policy tool that helps planners and other built environment professionals understand the benefits of helping maintain independence in their own homes.
According to Disability Rights UK, 83% of disabled people had 'walked away' from making a purchase, unable or unwilling to do so. The most important factor was inaccessible premises. Other important factors that discouraged disabled consumers from spending were poorly designed products and staff who were not disability confident, were rude or appeared prejudiced.
While inclusive design in the built environment is gaining ground, it is still not common practice. Often all that is asked for and delivered is the bare minimum to meet existing standards and regulations.
Building on previous Cabe work we have partnered with various organisations to build a hub of inclusive design best practice guidance for built environment professionals. It covers buildings and outdoor spaces, in all phases of development including planning, design and construction, right through to the management of those buildings and places. It is a collection of resources and we do not promote the use of one over the other.
Suggest a resource
If you would like to suggest a resource to be included in this hub, please send us a link and a short description explaining what the resource is, and who it applies to.
Inclusive Environments Hub
Find best practice guidance covering buildings and outdoor spaces in all phases of development.Search the hub
Supported by the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for Work and Pensions and other partners, Design Council is creating new Inclusive Environment CPD training.
We are seeking partners to match-fund the initial government grant. Download our sponsorship brochure to find out how you can support this initiative. Our aspiration is to create the central place for people to learn and be inspired about inclusive design in the built environment.
Inclusive Environments CPD
Help fund the creation of inclusive environments CPD training materials.Partner with us
We would like to thank all of our partners for their support, particularly the Department for Communities and Local Government for funding the development of the resource hub, and David Bonnett Associates for generously gifting us their inclusive design library.
- Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG)
- Historic England
- Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
- National Register of Access Consultants
- The Access Association
- Sharp & Bentley
- British Institute of Facilities Management
- Building Control Alliance
- Centre for Accessible Environments
- Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists
- Chartered Institute of Building
- Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation
- Construction Industry Council
- Greater London Authority (GLA)
- Institution of Civil Engineers
- Landscape Institute
- Local Authority Building Control
- Planning Officers Society
- Royal Institute of British Architects
- Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
- Royal Town Planning Institute
- Built Environment Professional Education Project, Office for Disability Issues