The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has Tuesday, October 28th issued detailed planning advice to ensure that London becomes the most accessible city in the world for disabled people.
Aimed predominantly at planners and developers, the Accessible London Supplementary Planning Guidance builds on the lessons learnt from hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to ensure that all new developments in the capital are built to the very highest levels of accessibility.
London is reaping the rewards from hosting the best Olympic and Paralympic Games ever with billions of pounds of inward investment, supporting economic growth and the creation of tens of thousands of jobs.
The Games also demonstrated what can be achieved when inclusive design principles are embedded into a project from the outset. The park and venues were designed with accessibility enshrined into the thinking of the designers, not just to ensure that the Paralympic athletes could excel in their sport but enabling disabled spectators, staff, volunteers, the Olympic family, the press, and visitors to the park to enjoy and participate to the same extent as non-disabled people. In a recent survey, 81 per cent of people said the Games has had a positive impact on how disabled people are viewed by the British public.
London is already one of the most accessible cities in the world and earlier this month, the Mayor confirmed plans for a £75m fund to speed up the rate at which the London Underground network is made accessible for disabled Londoners and visitors to the capital.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:
“The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were widely recognised as the most inclusive ever and one way we achieved that was through the design of the venues and the Park. I am determined that we use that experience to ensure that all new developments in London maintains this high level of accessibility – helping to change perceptions of disability and enabling disabled people to be part of our economy and fully contribute to our great city.”
The Mayor believes that people should be able to live and work in safe, healthy, supportive and inclusive neighbourhoods with which they are proud to identify. To achieve this, the Supplementary Planning Guidance advocates places that are designed to be inclusive regardless of age or disability and argues that they best promote positive community involvement. These so-called’ lifestyle neighbourhoods’ incorporate issues such as quality of transport, housing, public realm, social infrastructure and community facilities.
According to Transport for London, 22 per cent of non-disabled people regularly cycle while only nine per cent of disabled people do so. Currently, cycling accounts for only one per cent of all journeys amongst people aged 65 and older in the UK compared to 23 per cent in the Netherlands, 15 per cent in Denmark and 9 per cent in Germany. The Supplementary Planning Guidance therefore highlights the need for inclusive cycling and offers guidance on what to consider.
Investment into London’s transport network is also bringing step free access to many rail stations, all buses and black cabs and the entire DLR. All of the 30 Crossrail stations in London will also be step-free. The new neighbourhoods now being built around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will create some of the most accessible and inclusive neighbourhoods in London, and the eight Olympic venues in the park will maintain their high level of accessibility for future users.