An accessible environment is one which is safe, predictable, well designed, and easily used by everyone regardless of age or disability. Everyone benefits from an accessibly designed built environment, particularly people with disabilities, older people, and families with young children. It is more cost effective to ensure that access design criteria are integrated into a development at the early design stages before the proposal is submitted for planning approval.
The following access design criteria provide a logical guide for thinking of movement from one place to another and to successfully creating an accessible environment:
Further, the Bermuda Plan 2018 emphasizes the need to provide safe and convenient pedestrian access in all developments (policy TPT.16), to provide specific parking spaces for disabled persons (policy TPT.22), to ensure that there are appropriately designed pedestrian and disabled access links from parking areas and .
Ageing and Disability services (ADS) provides advice to developers on accessibility requirements and best practices.
To ensure that access design issues are considered at the earliest possible stage in the development process and to ensure that the facilities are integrated in an inclusive manner, applicants are required to submit an Access Statement with a planning application for all developments requiring the consideration of accessibility and access design criteria, in accordance with the relevant policies of the Bermuda Plan 2018.
The purpose of the Access Statement is to outline how a project has been designed to deliver an accessible environment. The Access Statement should indicate how the development complies with the Bermuda Building Code 2014 and should clearly demonstrate how the access needs of all potential users and particularly disabled persons and less mobile people have been addressed with regard to the following:-
Building design and construction is governed by the Bermuda Building Code 2014.
Chapter 11 of the BOCA National Building Code 1996, part of the Bermuda Building Code 2014, sets the minimum legal standards for the design and construction of facilities to be accessible to physically disabled persons and where they are required.
Chapter 11 of the BOCA National Building Code 1996 includes regulations related to accessible routes exterior to buildings, accessible routes within buildings, parking facilities, and specific user group requirements. It is recommended that an applicant consult the Department of Planning’s Building Control Officer to get further advice and guidance with regard to these requirements.
The requirements of Chapter 11 of the BOCA National Building Code 1996 also apply to historic buildings or listed buildings that undergo alterations or a change of occupancy unless the applicant can show that the requirement is ‘technically infeasible.’ ‘Technically infeasible’ is defined as “an alteration of a building or a facility that has little likelihood of being accomplished because the existing structural conditions require the removal or alteration of a loadbearing member that is an essential part of the structural frame, or because other existing physical or site constraints prohibit modification or addition of elements, spaces or features which are in full and strict compliance with the minimum requirements for new construction and which are necessary to provide accessibility”.
People of all ages and abilities should have access to historic buildings that are open to the general public. Every effort should be made to ensure comfort and dignity for the user requiring special access, while preserving the integrity of the building. This is best achieved by first identifying the heritage value and character-defining features of the building, and designing a workable access solution that has the least possible impact on the building and its setting. Any short-term improvements should be reversible. The architect or agent should explore options early in the design stages. The Department of Planning’s Listed Building Record Sheet may provide useful information on character defining features. Early consultation with the Department of Planning is strongly recommended.