It’s putting the person, the human at the centre of what you do. Because no matter what industry or sector you’re in, there’s a human in there somewhere, so just anticipate and consider their needs.

Kathryn Townsend, Head of Customer & Client Accessibility, Barclays UK

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 agile 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
  • Flexible
  • 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 the success of inclusive environments 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 Environments CPD

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. Our Inclusive Environments CPD aims to encourage the UK’s highly skilled professionals to continue leading the way in building the most accessible and inclusive country in the world.

The CPD aims to:

  • Increase awareness of inclusive design as standard practice at a national level
  • Change the perceptions and aspirations of 600,000 designers and specifiers on inclusive design

The Inclusive Environments CPD has been funded by partners including the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and developed in partnership with the key institutes and experts on Inclusive Design across the UK. 

The CPD is free to take and takes around an hour to complete through an online course. Upon completion of the course, you will be awarded a certificate from Design Council.

Take the course

Take our free, online Inclusive Environments CPD.

Take the course

Why it matters

An ageing population

The UK’s population is getting older. Housing provision needs to change to meet this rapidly growing demand. There are 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.

Stronger communities

The quality of the built environment has a significant role to play in tackling social disadvantage. The majority of people use and value parks and green spaces, but minority groups tend to have less local green space and it is of poorer quality.   

Economic growth

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.

Buying power

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.


The Equality ActNational Planning Policy Framework and guidance on building regulations all require new and existing buildings and spaces to provide access for all.

The Hub

Building on previous Design Council 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


Considering Inclusive Environments and how we rethink design Whether you are a planner, designer, a construction professional or a facilities manager, all of us who work in the built environment sector have a role to play in creating inclusive buildings, spaces and places that are welcoming to everyone. All of us who work in the built environment sector have roles to play in creating inclusive buildings, spaces and places that are welcoming.

News — 28/07/2015