Easy Access to Historic Landscapes - Sensory Therapy Gardens Manual


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Easy Access to Historic Landscapes - Sensory Therapy Gardens Manual

  1. 1. Easy Access toHistoricLandscapes
  2. 2. The United Kingdom’s historic parks, gardens and English Heritage, the National Trust and Historiclandscapes are valued for their beauty, diversity and Scotland seek to ensure that their properties andhistorical significance. Millions of people visit them every events are accessible to everyone by providing easy,year but many others feel unwelcome and unable to dignified access wherever reasonably possible.Theenjoy these special places. Improving access is one key statutory agencies encourage others who own orto a wider understanding, valuing, caring and enjoyment manage historic landscapes to adopt access plans thatof historic landscapes. English Heritage and the Heritage are consistent with the special historic or archaeologicalLottery Fund have produced this guidance to help interest of the property concerned. As the lead advisoryowners and managers reconcile wider access with body on historic landscapes in England, English Heritageconservation interests. Although prompted by the believes access should be celebrated with high-qualityimplementation of the Disability Discrimination Act design that is also sensitive to the special interest of1995, this guidance promotes an inclusive approach to historic parks, gardens and landscapes.ensure that every visitor to a historic park, garden orlandscape has a meaningful experience. Funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund across the UK often presents the biggest opportunity for historic parksThe National Trust, Countryside Agency, Historic and gardens to undertake major redevelopment andHouses Association and Historic Scotland have make physical improvements to overcome the barriersprovided advice and guidance on this publication. disabled people face in sharing access to our heritage.The advice of the Historic Houses Association is very In its first 10 years the Heritage Lottery Fund haswelcome as many of our important historic parks and restored over 250 public parks, gardens, squares,gardens open to the public are in private ownership. promenades and historic cemeteries across the UK. HLFThe Sensory Trust, which was commissioned to develop expects all applicants to think about how they can makethis guidance, promotes and implements inclusive their heritage asset more accessible for disabled peopleenvironmental design and management.The Trust’s by overcoming the barriers which challenge access.team has worked closely with groups of disabledpeople, property staff and advisors on this project. All of us who have been involved in producing this guidance document encourage everyone who may haveBarriers to access and individual, site-specific solutions a role in making historic landscapes more accessible –are illustrated throughout the guidance to stimulate owners, managers, friends groups, advisors – to useideas, but new access solutions are being developed this guidance to create inclusive landscapes that canall the time and over the next five years a library of be accessed and enjoyed by everyone.good design and good practice case studies couldbe developed. HISTORIC HOUSES ASSOCIATION
  3. 3. Contents Easy access to historic landscapesContentsIntroduction 3 Access plan 23What this guide covers 4 The access planning process 24 Other guidance 4 Supporting the process 26 Access statement 26Part I Funding 26Access and conservation: Barriers to access 27 getting the balance right 5 Identifying barriers 28 Permissions and consents 8 Examples of barriers 30Access legislation and standards 10 Examples of solutions 31 Disability Discrimination Acts Visitor experience 32 1995 and 2005 10 Visitor surveys 33 Defining disability 10 Decision to visit 33 Standards for access and Part M 11 Information for visitors 34 Access statement 12 Bolton Abbey 35 Considering reasonable adjustments 12 Getting there and home 36An inclusive approach 13 Arrival 38 Principles of an inclusive Getting around 39 historic landscape 14 Paths and routes 40 Benefits of an inclusive approach 15 Path surfaces 42Developing skills 16 Steps 43Consulting with people 17 Steep paths and gradients 45 The Witley Court Project 18 On-site transport 47 Garden features 48Part 2 Information and interpretation 49Planning for better access 20 Comfort 52 Access strategy 21 Poole’s Cavern 54 Access audit 21 Conservation management plan 21 Supporting information Disability Discrimination Act 1995 55 Disability Rights Commission Codes of Practice 56 Front cover images, from top left to bottom right all © Sensory Trust Sources of information Mount Edgcumbe Park, Cornwall Primary legislation 57 Cathedral Precinct, Glasgow Official guidance documents 57 Chatsworth House, Derbyshire General reading: access 58 Mount Stewart, Co. Down General reading: historic landscapes Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh and their conservation 62 Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire Where to go for further information 63 No Man’s Land Orchard, Kent Access organisations 63 Painshill Park, Surrey National societies 65 Government bodies 66 1
  4. 4. Easy access to historic landscapes IntroductionHistoric landscapes and access issues are diverse.Clockwise from top left: Peveril Castle, Derbyshire; Witley Court, Worcestershire; Birmingham BotanicGardens; Mount Stewart, County Down; Badminton Park, Gloucestershire; Mount Grace Priory, NorthYorkshire; Corfe Castle, Dorset; Painshill Park Waterwheel, Surrey; centre Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol © Christopher Gallagher © Andrew Tryner © Stephen Robson © National Trust2
  5. 5. Introduction Easy access to historic landscapesIntroductionThis guide has been produced to helpproperty owners and managers make their Key points of this guidehistoric landscapes more accessible to all Historic landscapes are important national assets.Theyvisitors. It will also be of value to designers, provide some of the most special and valued places forplanners, policy makers and others working public recreation and education. Such landscapes are oftento open up historic sites to a wider range vulnerable.The objective of conservation management isof visitors.The principles in this guide are to maintain historic landscapes in ways that sustain theirapplicable for other landscapes. significance or values, and where appropriate, recover, reveal or enhance them.The term historic landscape is usedthroughout this guide to include the The benefits of improving access go beyond meeting legalfollowing types of landscape in the UK: requirements. It is an opportunity to attract new audiences, increase the likelihood of repeat visits and improve the Historic parks and gardens quality of experience for all visitors. Historic urban squares and townscapes Ancient monuments Access improvements benefit many people. It is estimated Industrial heritage that one person in five is disabled (11.7 million), and that Cemeteries and commemorative sites a further 18 million people would benefit from improved access to public spaces.This includes older people, familiesA key theme of this guide is how to achieve with young children and people with temporary or health-a balance between improving access and related impairments (Office of the Deputy Prime Ministerconserving the historic character and fabric. 2003).The focus is on enhancing the visitorexperience, but the guidance will also help Access must be seen in its widest sense, including howimprove the skills and approach of staff and easy it is for people to explore the landscape, enjoy itvolunteers. Access can often be significantly and feel comfortable. Standard solutions rarely work.enhanced through low-key improvements Access improvements should be planned to respectand without major intervention. the special qualities of a particular site.This guide advocates an inclusive approach The DDA requires a reasonable approach to improvingto design and management, addressing access but the meaning of reasonable is yet to be established.the needs of all people, regardless of Expectations of what is reasonable are likely to evolve asage, gender, background or disability. inclusive approaches are more widely used and technologyThis inclusive approach is underpinned improves. Meeting responsibilities under the DDA relies onby legislation such as the Disability changing practices, policies and procedures as well as makingDiscrimination Acts 1995 and 2005 (DDA). practical changes on the ground. Inclusive practices rely on the support and involvement of all staff and volunteers. 3
  6. 6. Easy access to historic landscapes Introduction What this guide covers The focus of this guide is on developing Other guidance approaches that can be sustained over time, for example by making existing This guide has been produced as a practices more inclusive. In the absence companion to English Heritage’s Easy of regulatory standards for access to Access to Historic Buildings (2004), Historic landscape, this guide suggests Scotland’s Technical Advice Note Access to examples of current good practice. the Built Heritage (1996), the Countryside for All accessibility standards, the Fieldfare Part 1 sets the scene. It addresses the Trust’s A Good Practice Guide to Countryside challenges associated with improving Access for Disabled People Extended CD access in historic landscapes and the need Edition: 2005, and the Countryside to find creative access solutions. It gives Agency’s new guidance on least restrictive an overview of the DDA, highlights the access (By All Reasonable Means 2005). benefits of an inclusive approach and It also refers to the Building Regulations and outlines the importance of developing the minimum standards set out in Part M skills and consulting with people. of these regulations (ODPM 2004). Part 2 is designed to help managers Guidance on access standards for buildings and owners plan access improvements. and the wider countryside can be very It discusses how visitors find out about, useful. However, whilst many issues are reach, and enjoy a site, and highlights the similar for both indoor and outdoor importance of comfort and enjoyment. environments caution is required when Ideas and examples of good practice applying such solutions in historic landscapes. have been collected from historic landscapes throughout the UK. At the time of writing there is limited published guidance on improving access The supporting information section to historic landscapes.The Sensory Trust provides information on the legislation, website includes a review of current with particular emphasis on the DDA. publications. It also identifies sources of further information and advice.4
  7. 7. Part 1 Easy access to historic landscapesPart 1Access and conservation:getting the balance rightHistoric landscapes provide some of the Parks and gardens were designed formost popular visitor attractions in the UK. pleasure.Their paths, drives, vantage pointsIn 2002, more than 57 million visits were and features such as pavilions and terracesmade to country parks, historic gardens, show how the landscape was originallyhistoric houses and palaces (VisitBritain intended to be used and enjoyed.2002). English Heritage’s own visitor surveyinformation from 2003 and 2004 shows Many of these historic landscapes are openthat approximately 35 per cent to the public, and visitors are importantare repeat visits. to help them remain viable.These landscapes are tangible links to our However, few historic landscapes werepast.They are important as expressions of originally planned to be accessible tolandscape design and for their association disabled people.Therefore, it is notwith individuals, historic events, art and surprising that many parks and gardensculture, and as wider landscape settings. present access challenges due to their topography and design features or aParks, gardens and other designed combination of both. For example, narrowlandscapes of special historic interest may paths and gateways laid out as part of anmerit inclusion in the national registers for intimate private garden may make accessEngland, Wales and Northern Ireland and difficult for wheelchair users or peoplethe Inventory of Gardens and Designed with pushchairs when this garden isLandscapes in Scotland.These designations opened up to the public to visit.reflect the aesthetic qualities of thelandscapes, their rarity, state of survival, Carefully planned and maintained accessand their contribution to the history improvements can help attract newof landscape design. audiences and improve the visitor experience.The principles of easy accessRegistered and inventory landscapes often are not new. In 1833, the garden designer,represent layers of design from different Robert Marnock wrote an article on thehistoric periods as well as the work of making and formation of gravel walks andimportant designers. Many other non- was mindful of ‘the horror’ of loose gravelregistered sites are of local importance upon those who happened to have ‘suchand require care when planning changes. things as corns on their feet’ (Gardener’s and Forester’s Record 1 1833). 5
  8. 8. Easy access to historic landscapes Part 1Access relies on more The potential benefits of improving accessthan making physicalchanges. For example, need to be balanced with maintaining theguided tours bring to integrity and authenticity of the historiclife the history of a landscape.This requires an understandingplace and can betailored to different of the significance of the historic landscape.audiences, such as here For example, its design and features,at the Great Flat Lode architecture, archaeology, historic andTrail in Cornwall. cultural associations, scientific or wildlife interest and role as an amenity.The aesthetic qualities of the historic landscape are equally important. Part of the property manager’s challenge is to appreciate these different and potentially conflicting interests, and find the most appropriate solutions to improving access.An example of Conservation principles for historicbalancing historic landscapes give priority to physicalsignificance with accessimprovement to preservation and, where possible, theiraccommodate a grade continued use or function. As much aschange at Well Hall possible of the original fabric shouldPleasaunce, London. be retained, and intervention should be minimised. The components of a historic landscape may be important in their own right or for their collective effect but they may not be of equal significance. Some may even detract from or obscure features of historic significance, some values may be conflicting. There can be a tension between conserving historic significance and broadening the use and enjoyment of a landscape by visitors. Historical survey and analysis are essential to understand the significance of individual components, optimise values, and plan the sensitive integration of new or upgraded access provision. Interventions and6
  9. 9. Part 1 Easy access to historic landscapes © Clay Perrydecisions should be recorded for futureinterest and original material salvaged.The diversity of historic landscapes meansthat access improvements cannot bestandard solutions. For example, the benefitsof good signage are well understood butsign design needs to be specific to each site.Access improvements should be in contextwith the design and qualities of a historiclandscape, and major interventions shouldaim to be valued as features in their ownright in the future. Conservation principlesdo not imply or rule out working in historicstyles but do require respect for thesignificance of the historic landscape.Short-term or temporary solutions shouldbe reversible and should not delay orobstruct permanent, well-designedimprovements. Maintenance of a historiclandscape is essential. Paths, signs andother access features should be keptin good condition.New sensory gardens and features likeraised borders with scented plants haveoften been developed to add interest tosites. However, better maintenance of thewhole historic landscape can often unlocka far more extensive sensory experiencefor all visitors.The whole garden should be The Arley Hall, Cheshire, double herbaceousa sensory experience. With the emphasis border dates from 1846 and is one of the oldeston maintenance and repair of historically in the country. By tradition and for aesthetics, such flower borders are often set against lawns,important parks and gardens, new sensory however some wheelchair users will find grassgardens are unlikely to be appropriate. surfaces difficult. 7
  10. 10. Easy access to historic landscapes Part 1 Permissions and consents Reconstruction or re-creation of a historic Planning permission, listed building or landscape or feature may be considered scheduled monument consents may be to add interest or to aid interpretation. required if changes affect a registered Such developments need to be accurate, park or garden of historic interest. exact, evidence-based and fully recorded. Straightforward maintenance and repair Planning permission is nearly always preferable. Permission is required for the development of land.This includes most building work The DDA does not override other involving material alteration to the legislation such as listed building or appearance of a property and most planning legislation, and the need to obtain changes of use. Planning permissions appropriate approvals still applies in the are administered by local authorities. case of changes made to improve access. Listed building consent Historic landscapes often include notable buildings and garden structures. Consent is required for any works of demolition, alteration or extension which affect the character of a listed building, including any associated structures and fittings within its curtilage. Listed building legislation applies to both internal and external changes, irrespective of whether features are identified separately in the list description. The advice of the local planning authority should be sought on the need for consent at an early stage in the design process. In seeking listed building consent it is important to provide information about the architectural and historical significance of the building and to assess the likely impact of the access proposals in relation to this.The application must demonstrate The historic garden at Audley End, Essex has why any potentially damaging works are an 18th-century parterre which was restored in the 1980s.The fountains add to the sensory experience of the garden.8
  11. 11. Part 1 Easy access to historic landscapesnecessary or desirable, and thus establish Designated historic gardensthat a balance between conservation and landscapesand access has been struck. If a detailedproposal is refused consent it may still If planning permission is required for anybe possible to achieve alternative and proposed alterations, the local planningacceptable design solutions through authority must consult the Gardennegotiation and resubmission. History Society in all cases. In addition, English Heritage in the case of English sitesIt may also be necessary to apply for listed registered as Grade I or II*, or Historicbuilding consent for temporary access Scotland, or Cadw on designated landscapesmeasures, including those made in advance in Scotland and Wales.The Departmentof permanent solutions being adopted, of the Environment in Northern Irelandif these will affect the character of the is the statutory agency for natural andbuilding – the local planning authority will built heritage.advise on the need for consent. Portableramps which are not fixed in place and It is important in principle that disabledwhich are removed after use do not people should have dignified access torequire consent. and within historic buildings. If it is treated as part of an integrated reviewScheduled monument consent of access arrangements for all visitors or users, and a flexible and pragmaticSome historic landscapes may be protected approach taken, it should normally beas scheduled monuments. Consent is possible to plan suitable access forrequired for any work to a site or building disabled people without compromisingthat has been designated as a scheduled a building’s special interest. Alternativemonument.The websites for English routes or reorganising the use of spaceHeritage, Historic Scotland, Cadw and may achieve the desired result withoutthe Department of the Environment in the need for damaging alterations.Northern Ireland give information onhow to apply for consents. Department of the Environment and Department of National Heritage 1994. Planning Policy Guidance Note 15: Planning and the Historic Environment. 9
  12. 12. Easy access to historic landscapes Part 1 Access legislation and standards Disability Discrimination Acts especially those that can be achieved by 1995 and 2005 means that avoid major physical alteration. It is usually possible to reconcile This section gives an introduction to the conservation and access interests. Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the scope of which is extended by the 2005 Defining disability Act. Further detail about the DDA and associated Codes of Practice is provided Improving access for disabled people is in the supporting information section. often assumed to mean providing for wheelchair users, but it is estimated that The DDA makes it unlawful for the only five per cent of disabled people are providers of goods, facilities and services permanent wheelchair users.Their needs (and certain other bodies) to discriminate are important but must be considered against anyone on the grounds of his or together with other types of disability. her disability. It affects all owners of historic gardens and landscapes that are open to The DDA defines disability as ‘a physical the public, as ‘service providers’, often also or mental impairment which has a as employers and sometimes as education substantial and long-term adverse effect providers. It applies in England, Scotland, on [a person’s] ability to carry out normal Wales and Northern Ireland. day-to-day activities’. In addition to wheelchair users and ambulant disabled The DDA requires that reasonable people, this definition includes those adjustments should be made where a with poor manual co-ordination or little service provider has a practice, policy or strength; those with sensory impairments, procedure or there is a physical feature including impaired sight and hearing; that makes it impossible or unreasonably and people with impaired memory, difficult for disabled people to make use concentration or understanding.The DDA of the service. What is deemed reasonable 2005 extends this definition to include will be tested in the courts but the people with progressive conditions such Disability Rights Commission’s Code of as multiple sclerosis, HIV or cancer. Practice (2002), gives helpful guidance. Disability spans all age groups, backgrounds Where appropriate, Scheduled Monument, and circumstances. It is estimated that one or Listed Building Consent and planning in five people in the UK has a disability approval must be obtained in advance of (ODPM 2003).This does not include improving access by physical changes. all those people who at any one time However, this does not provide a blanket experience what may be temporary excuse for avoiding access improvements,10
  13. 13. Part 1 Easy access to historic landscapes‘disabilities’, for example a broken limb, Standards for accessa heart condition, or general fatigue. and Part MThe implications of disability are oftenshared by a group of visitors including The DDA does not include standards forfamilies, friends, carers and companions. access. Approved Document Part M: Access to and Use of Buildings (ODPM 2004) ofOlder people may not consider themselves the Building Regulations (ODPM 2002) isdisabled but can experience many of the the only set of regulatory standards tosame barriers through reduced stamina, address accessible design. It was updatedmobility, sight and hearing. Demographic to include the BS 8300 (BSI 2001) standards.changes are resulting in a greater The updated version advocates an inclusiveproportion of older people in society. approach to ‘design to accommodate theIncreasingly, retired people have more needs of all people’. BS 8300 has alsodisposable income and time to spend been updated.on leisure.They are already likely tobe a significant proportion of visitors Part M applies primarily to buildings butto historic landscapes. includes the approaches to them from edge of site, car parks and setting-down points. Recent disability figures for the UK Part M is a useful reference point for suggest that there are: designers, owners and managers, even when building regulations do not apply. Over 11.7 million people who are It provides guidance on inclusive design categorised as disabled principles and a wide range of specific Over 2 million have a visual issues including car parking, paths, ramps, impairment gradients, steps, information, toilets and 8 million people suffer from some other facilities. form of hearing loss 1 million people have a form of However, the following points need to learning difficulty be considered: Over 7 million people have literacy problems.’ Part M provides minimum standards and these serve as baselines only Cabinet Office 2002. Illustrated Handbook The standards are building-related for Web Management Teams and may not be appropriate for all www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk landscape situations There may be constraints that prevent a historic designed landscape from meeting the standards, and inclusive solutions may be achieved more effectively through other means 11
  14. 14. Easy access to historic landscapes Part 1 A copy of Approved Document Part M Considering reasonable (2004) can be downloaded from the adjustments ODPM website. Similar standards for access can be found in the Building The DRC Code of Practice (DRC 2002) (Scotland) Regulations (2004) on the that covers access, facilities and services Scottish Building Standards Agency website. explains the statutory duty to make reasonable adjustments as comprising of a Access statement series of duties falling into three main areas: The access statement is an important 1 Change practices, policies and addition to the updated Part M. Essentially procedures the access statement is a way of 2 Provide auxiliary aids and services demonstrating that every effort has been 3 Overcome a physical feature by made to provide an inclusive environment removing the feature, or altering it, and that the property manager is not or avoiding it, or providing services simply using the site and its layout to justify by alternative methods lower standards of access provision. It is a useful document for owners and managers All of these need to be considered and to create, even when building regulations judged in terms of what would form a do not apply. Part M recognises that access reasonable approach to balancing historic solutions may vary from site to site, and significance and access requirements. that there may be other, equally satisfactory ways of meeting the requirements. It is often assumed that access improvements involve physical changes. An access statement should be a working This is not always the case. Some of record of how approaches and applications the most effective improvements come were planned, the reasons why decisions from quite simple, low-cost changes to were made, the constraints imposed by interpretation, the way things are done, the existing design, who was consulted and and how visitors are looked after.This is what guidance was used. Further detail particularly important for landscapes of is given on page 26. high historic significance with more limited options for physical change.Accessible sites allowdisabled and non-disabled visitors toenjoy the experiencetogether. Accessprovision that separatespeople should beavoided wheneverpossible.12
  15. 15. Part 1 Easy access to historic landscapesAn inclusive approachAn inclusive approach recognises everyoneas a potential visitor.The challenge is toensure that each visitor has an equallysatisfying experience.An inclusive environment is one that canbe used by everyone, regardless of age,gender, disability or background. It resultsfrom a creative approach to design andmanagement that embraces diversity andseeks solutions to benefit as many peopleas possible.This approach will help ownersand managers improve access for thewidest range of visitors, staff and volunteers.Traditional approaches to improving accesshave tended to segregate disabled people.Even though access may be improved,disabled visitors can feel isolated and benefit people with pushchairs as well as An inclusive approach ensures that all visitorspatronised. For example, disabled people older people and wheelchair users. Clearer feel included.may have to use a separate entrance signage will help people with dyslexia asto their favourite garden, or follow an well as those with visual impairments.alternative route around a site thatmisses the most popular attraction. It is rarely possible to do everything for everyone.The point is to create a balanceA common example of segregation is so that every visitor is able to enjoy thethe idea of a sensory garden designed experience. Providing choice is important.specifically for visually impaired visitors. For example, if a property offers audioAn inclusive approach recognises that tours, an equivalent experience shouldthe sensory qualities of a landscape be provided for hearing-impaired visitorsare appreciated by all visitors.The best through written materials or signage.approach is to draw out the full sensoryexperiences throughout the site. Simply following design specifications will not result in inclusive sites and facilities.Accommodating the diverse needs of Specifications are a starting point, butdisabled people will also address issues common sense and a creative approachof age, gender and background as long as are required to find solutions that workdisability is seen in its broadest sense. best within a historic landscape.For example, improving a path surface will 13
  16. 16. Easy access to historic landscapes Part 1 Inclusive design is an evolving approach Offers choice that changes in response to expectations This is one of the most important aspects and new techniques as well as legislation. of an inclusive landscape. It ensures that It relates to how access improvements visitors can decide how they want to use are planned, as well as the end results. and enjoy it. For example, some people An inclusive approach is based on the will visit independently, others with set of principles below. family, friends or as part of a group. It is important to provide for all of these. Principles of an inclusive Clear information will help people make historic landscape choices about when and what to visit. Easy to use Safe This principle relates to how easy it is for Safety is a fundamental issue. Health and people to get to and around a historic safety policies and practices must address designed landscape, and to use its facilities. the needs of all visitors, staff and volunteers. The main issues usually concern transport, Feedback from visitors, front-line staff and entrances, paths, toilets, seating and volunteers will help identify problems that information. Improvements may involve might be overlooked by routine checks. physical adaptation such as re-laying Issues include emergency evacuation uneven paving or providing an alternative, procedures, and how these are shorter route around a site. Maintenance communicated to people with different can make a big difference, for example disabilities. Safety checks should take keeping paths clear of overhanging plants account of temporary work and how or repairing eroded path surfaces. Staff and it might impact on access. volunteers can provide valuable support as guides or assistants. Embraces diversity Comfortable An inclusive approach sees diversity as an opportunity to find creative design Comfort relies on a network of facilities and management solutions. It relies on including toilets, food, help points and adopting positive approaches in all aspects seating. Comfort is important for all visitors, of design and management.This includes particularly those who tire easily and need staff and volunteer recruitment, events to rest more often. Providing seating and management, landscape design and shelter enables older or disabled people management, education programmes to explore a longer historic route or to and ongoing maintenance. pause to absorb information. Small details can make a big impact, for example water provided for assistance dogs.14
  17. 17. Part 1 Easy access to historic landscapesBenefits of an inclusiveapproachVisitor satisfaction Better quality of experience for all visitorsVisitor numbers Increased visitor numbers from new audiences and increased repeat visitsStaff and volunteer development Improved service delivery and greater staff satisfactionPositive image Good reputation associated with making efforts to improve accessCost versus benefit More effective use of resources and less wastage from temporary measuresEmployment Greater diversity of people employed as staff and volunteersBalance Conservation of historic significance is balanced with improved access provision. Broad, well-maintained paths provide good access through the quarry gardens of Belsay Hall, Northumberland. Ease of access between garden areas also needs to be considered. 15
  18. 18. Easy access to historic landscapes Part 1 Developing skills Disability awareness training is designed Some of the best ideas for improving to increase understanding of disability and access, especially concerning operational access issues.Training should be ongoing, practices, come from front-line staff. linked with other skills development, Arranging visits to other sites is useful to and provided for all staff and volunteers. share ideas and experiences with others, Typically, organisations invest in training and to see examples of good practice. operational staff, but overlook the This can help staff see the benefits of importance of extending this to all developing inclusive practices, and how members of the organisation, including access improvements can be made in those staff who work behind the scenes keeping with the character and special and senior staff and board members. qualities of a historic landscape. Ideally, a training programme will include some sessions focused on specific disabilities such as hearing or visual impairments, as well as general awareness. Some of the most effective training is gained by working and consulting with disabled people.Trainers need to have an insight into historic property conservation and management, and the appropriateness of different options to enhance accessibility. Visitors judge an organisation or site on staff attitude and the way things are done, as well as on what the place has to offer. Effective change therefore relies onVolunteers help a group of visitors negotiate developing skills and understandingbarriers designed to prevent vehicular access amongst staff. It is crucial that everyone inon the Camel Trail in Cornwall. the property team understands that they have a part to play in improving access, and that the organisation or property manager supports and encourages this sense of shared responsibility. Nominating a champion for access issues can help this process, but they must have sufficient seniority and the support of colleagues at all levels of the organisation.16
  19. 19. Part 1 Easy access to historic landscapesConsulting with peopleIt is important to involve disabled people An inclusive approach involves as manyas early as possible when planning access different people asimprovements. Consultation should also possible. Asking peopleinclude people who do not visit a place in what they think about a place will helporder to find out why.Visitors and visitor- identify priorities foroperations staff also need to be involved improving access.Thisin the identification, study, interpretation, group took part in a consultation day for theprotection, conservation and presentation North Downs Wayof the historic landscape in order to Lost Landscapesparticipate in making decisions about project in Kent.changes to improve access.This ensuresthat the needs and views of differentpeople and the site and its conservatorsare considered at a stage when there isgreatest scope for addressing implications.Many disabled people are used to findingcreative ways of overcoming barriers intheir day-to-day lives.Their perspectivescan be invaluable in helping to identify themost practical ways of overcoming accessbarriers in a landscape. Consultation must not be a token effort to involve people. One of the most commonWhen planning consultation, it is useful to criticisms from people who have givenidentify local communities and groups that time to share their views is that they nevermight get involved, such as disability groups, heard any news of what happened as aretirement communities, clubs, conservation result of their contribution. Ongoinggroups, schools and training centres. contact with people is important to ensure they feel their input was valued and toMost people will respect the fact that review subsequent ideas and changes.efforts are being made and will welcomethe opportunity for their ideas and views When discussing a site it is important toto be sought.Their involvement will address the quality of experience it offersdemonstrate a positive commitment as well as its barriers.This will give a moreto improving access, and this can help complete picture of the site and showreassure visitors who may feel frustrated how best to make its sensory experienceswith current access difficulties. accessible. It should also help to identify which barriers should be tackled first. 17
  20. 20. Easy access to historic landscapes Part 1 Giving a clear picture at the outset will encourage more appropriate suggestions, and will help avoid the need to explain at a later stage why some ideas could not be taken into account. Professional input can provide specialist insights on design and management options, explain the historic significance of a site and interpret the implications of different suggestions. Access at Witley Court Project English Heritage invited groups of disabled people to help its Witley Court, Worcestershire, team understand the property’s physical and intellectual accessConsultation should be convenient and accessible so that people canparticipate.This includes accessible venues, appropriate times and transport barriers and to discuss ideas aboutif needed. Any supporting documents and information should be accessible. how access could be improved. Effective consultation relies on establishing Witley Court is an important Grade II* clear parameters, including the following: registered landscape park and formal mid-19th-century garden.The French and Parts of the landscape with special Italian gardens designed by the prestigious historic significance which have William Andrews Nesfield (1794–1881) limited options for change were considered to be among the most Barriers with no historic significance magnificent in England.The Court, its that could be changed gardens, and associated buildings are also The level of resources available to a Scheduled Monument. Within this group, support new ideas and improvements the house, its link to the church and the Realistic estimates of the cost of baroque church are also Grade I listed capital works buildings, and further buildings and features Providing adequate information for are listed Grade II* and Grade II. consultees to reach informed decisions Allowing sufficient opportunity for In 2004, 58,000 people visited Witley consultees to respond Court.The majority are in the 45–54 Taking into account consultees’ advice group but 27 per cent are retired.The in final decisions visitors are mostly day-trippers who travel between 5 and 20 miles to a property.18
  21. 21. Part 1 Easy access to historic landscapes © Drew BennellickWitley Court is a challenging site forbalancing conservation with access needsas there is a variety of path surfacesthrough the woodland and gardens.Thereare also steps, terraces, lawns and parterres;and the house is only accessible via steps.The volunteers who took part in theAccess at Witley Court project consultationincluded people with hearing and visualimpairments, learning disabilities andwheelchair users.They offered manypractical and inexpensive recommendationson how access and the ‘comfort factor’ ofthe site might be improved for all visitors.The clearest message from the consultationwas that many disabled visitors appreciatebeing given clear pre-visit and welcomeinformation in different formats so theycan plan ahead, make choices and decisionsindependently. Information should includedetails of the site layout and facilitiesavailable as well as the historical significanceof the landcape.Consultation continues with the groupswho took part in the project asrecommendations are followed upand new site presentation andinterpretation is developed. Volunteers at Witley Court (Worcestershire) discussing how to improve access and appraising the audio guide. 19
  22. 22. Easy access to historic landscapes Part 2Part 2Planning for better accessGood access provision is the result of aproperty team’s commitment to improvingaccess and enjoyment for all visitors totheir historic landscapes. Property managingorganisations should develop policies andworking practices that include the needsof disabled people in all aspects of theirbusiness.The ultimate aim is to make thisinclusive approach integral to everythingthe organisation does.Planning ensures that improvementsbring the greatest benefits to the visitorexperience, while respecting the specialqualities of the historic landscape. Most as providing greater accessibility. Conversely, Involving people as early as possible in thedesigned landscapes have limited capital an approach that opens up all areas to consultation process,and revenue budgets, and often limited change can result in irreparable damage such as this planningstaff resources. Planning helps ensure to the historic character and fabric of a day for the grounds of Bethlem Royal Hospital,that these are used to best effect. landscape.There may be opportunities London, can lead to to reinstate routes that are historically new ways of thinkingThe diagram on pages 24 and 25 shows appropriate, for example old carriage about access issues, and produce goodhow to use and relate access planning tools drives to give vehicular access. ideas for tacklinglike strategies, audits and plans, and historic barriers and improvingenvironment conservation management Access may also rely on the quality of the experience for visitors.plans. Plans will vary according to the scale service provided by external agencies, forand complexity of a garden or landscape, example contractors like caterers, groundsbut the principles remain the same. maintenance teams, and event organisers. It is important that such agencies areThere are risks in failing to address aware of the quality of service they arehistoric significance when planning access expected to deliver.The duties introducedimprovements.The view that an entire by the DDA and the property’s accesslandscape must be preserved may overlook policies and standards will therefore needfeatures with little historic significance that to be included in briefs and specifications.could be improved aesthetically as well20
  23. 23. Part 2 Easy access to historic landscapesAccess strategy disabilities. Many audits focus on physical access. A thorough audit should alsoThe access strategy is a top-level document include sensory and intellectual barriers,that sets out the organisation’s access and whether disabled people have beenpolicy and the ways in which it will put the involved in access planning for the site.policy into practice.The access strategyneeds to include: The audit should follow the journey around a garden or landscape, starting A commitment to develop and sustain from information available to plan a visit, inclusive practices the arrival areas, through the choice of How the document links to other plans walks, gardens and features, services and and strategies, such as a conservation facilities available on site like guided tours, management plan and policies interpretation, cafés and toilets, and Plans for preparing an access audit finishing with the exit route. and access plan, and related costs Aims and targets for improving access Access audits are usually commissioned to services and facilities, together with from an independent expert.The audit brief timescales, priorities, inclusive design needs to identify the full range of issues to implications and budgets be included, for example if there are features Involvement of disabled people in the of special historic significance or areas development and ongoing review of that present particular access difficulties. the access strategy A clearer brief will result in a more useful How the access strategy will be audit. It is important to select an access monitored and reviewed and auditor with experience of assessing who will be responsible historic sites.The National Register of Access Consultants lists auditors with aImproving access must be seen as an wide range of specialist skills. Access andongoing process, not a one-off exercise. training organisations offer courses toThe access strategy and planning process develop audit skills and qualifications.encourages continuous improvements. Conservation management planAccess audit Planning for managing, restoring orBeing aware of the barriers to access on developing historic landscapes is wella site is an essential early step in planning established.The key to planning changeaccess improvements. An access audit is is an authoritative knowledge of thea useful tool that identifies and records landscape’s development and itsexisting barriers. It should address the significance in all senses – historical,requirements of the whole range of archaeological, cultural, ecological, character and its role as an amenity. 21
  24. 24. Easy access to historic landscapes Part 2 The conservation assessment includes: A description of the historic landscape and all its features An analysis of how the historic landscape has changed over time and how it is currently used An assessment of its significance A review of issues and opportunities including access Policies for conservation management including access The management part includes: Management and maintenancePlans need to take account of the relationship between a landscape and itsassociated buildings.There are often barriers to access associated with narrow prescriptions including accessopenings.This new visitor centre at Trebah Gardens, Cornwall, has created a improvementswide, level entrance to invite people into the garden. Budgets and work programming, including access works Conservation management plans are Monitoring and review processes used to appraise what matters and why, and to determine how to manage, maintain, The conservation assessment involves present and use the historic landscape researching a site’s history, its historic in an ever-changing environment. Access design, how it has changed over time and strategies will be an important component its current management and uses. It also of conservation management plans for addresses how and why visitors value the sites open to visitors. Plans identify site and any gaps in knowledge about it. opportunities and constraints and establish It may be necessary to commission policies and programmes of work for additional specialist reports from experts conservation and, where relevant, for such as landscape historians, archaeologists, opening up the site for public enjoyment. or ecologists. Much of the research collated for conservation management will also be The term ‘conservation management plan’ useful for the access plan.The site’s history reflects the two-stage process of developing and archaeology can provide information a plan. for access projects such as identifying new routes and designing interpretation materials.22
  25. 25. Part 2 Easy access to historic landscapesHistoric landscapes are vulnerable.The Service providers are more likely to beconservation plan should highlight any able to comply with their duty to makepotential threats arising from the current adjustments in relation to physicaluse or management of the landscape, for features if they arrange for an accessexample pressure from high visitor numbers audit of their premises to be conductedor deterioration of historic features like and draw up an access plan or strategy.steps and terraces from lack of repair. Acting on the results of such an evaluation may reduce the likelihood ofAccess plan legal claims against the service provider.Access plans are recommended as tools DRC 2002. Code of Practice:to programme access improvements. Rights to Access, Goods, Facilities,An access plan is based on the access Services and Premisesstrategy and brings together the findingsfrom the access audit and the conservationmanagement plan. It identifies work requiredand informs the site’s overall plans for theshort, medium and long term.The accessplan needs to identify timescales and whois responsible for delivering each agreedaction point. Access plans can also helpshow how DDA duties are being addressed.For historic gardens and landscapes theaccess plan should include: A summary of the different options and their implications for access improvement, conservation of historic significance, and quality of visitor experience Plans for providing alternative services during building works Cost projections and plans to secure the necessary funding Priorities for implementation and plans to phase the work An access audit and a list of suggested improvements 23
  26. 26. Easy access to historic landscapes Part 2The access planning process Access audit • Identify all access needs • Prioritise recommendations • Relate to the conservation assessment and conservation management plan Feasibility and options studies • Technical studies, including Access strategy means of escape • Agree strategic commitment • Impact analysis • Evaluate accessibility of • Mitigation measures if required employment/services offered • Test of ‘reasonableness’ of • Consider timescale and budget proposed adjustment • Identify person to progress • Consultation with relevant the process access and conservation bodies and with disability user groups Conservation assessment • A description of the historic landscape and all its features (historic, archaeological, landscape design, architectural, cultural, biodiversity, access and amenity) • An analysis of how the historic landscape has changed over time and how it is currently used • An assessment of its significance • A review of issues and opportunities including access audit • Policies for conservation management including access24
  27. 27. Part 2 Easy access to historic landscapes Measures have no apparent impact upon significance, or physical alterations not required Confirm that statutory consent is not required The access plan • Must be site or building specific • Incorporates a comprehensive rangeDraft access plan of access solutions, from managed• Reconciles access and change to physical alteration conservation needs • Is adopted by all concerned• Establishes short- and long-term • May be implemented in stages according aims in relation to opportunities to prioritised access needs and long-• Sets timescales for changes term building development strategy • Should be reviewed and endorsed at regular intervals in relation to the access strategy and conservation management plan Measures have impact and/or physical alterations are recommended – statutory consents or other approvals required • Detailed design • Development and impact assessments • Further technical studies • Further consultation • Prepare access statement for building regulations Obtain listed building, scheduled monument, planning consent or other approvals 25
  28. 28. Easy access to historic landscapes Part 2 Supporting the process Access statements Some local authorities offer access grants. Eligible work may include provision of An access statement should record progress ramps, accessible toilet facilities and and the decisions made in relation to the upgrading of signage.The local authority access plan. It should explain how and why access officer or volunteer bureau will be these decisions have been made, and how able to advise on funding sources. Some they have been influenced by the context private grant-making trusts will also help of the site and advice from other parties. with the costs of access improvements.The It is valuable for guiding future decisions, Directory of Social Change produces useful and communicating approaches both reference guides on sources of grants. internally and externally. Organisations like the National Trust have The development of an access statement fulltime access advisors to support staff, is recommended in Approved Document volunteers and properties.The Historic Part M (see page 11). Even when there are Houses Association offers its members the no requirements relating to planning or services of an advisor to undertake audits building regulations, this is a useful document and advise on access provision for disabled to produce. An access statement should be visitors and employees.The access advisor prepared at the start of any project and can also define access limitations and updated throughout all stages of the work. propose ways of overcoming them. The Disability Rights Commission website There are no specific funds available from includes a guide on access statements for English Heritage, Historic Scotland or the planning, designing and managing buildings Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for access and spaces.Templates for producing access improvements. HLF currently funds physical statements can be downloaded from the access improvements to historic landscapes Sensory Trust website. or sites if the improvements are part of a wider project and meet other HLF criteria. Funding Since 1994 HLF has granted £3.3 billion to 16,000 awards for projects which have At the time of writing there is no funding increased access to heritage for disabled source specifically to support access people.The environmental stewardship improvements for historic landscapes. scheme run by the Department for Where access work is eligible as part of a Environment, Food and Rural Affairs bigger grant scheme, the funding organisation (Defra) offers grants towards capital costs is likely to require an access strategy, audit of access features such as the upgrading and plan, together with a conservation of path surfaces. Historic environment management plan for a historic landscape. protection is also one of the scheme’s All funders are likely to require an inclusive objectives and there are options within approach to planned improvements.26
  29. 29. Part 2 Easy access to historic landscapes Barriers to accessthis for historic landscapes.The Northern Barriers prevent or dissuade disabledIreland Environment and Heritage Service people from visiting, enjoying or learningdo make grant-aid available for access about a site.They are diverse and someroutes of significant length within rural are more obvious than others.The mosthistoric landscapes, where entry is free. familiar are physical constraints such asThe Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund steps, slopes, uneven or loose surfacesincludes a land- and community-based and narrow paths. Other barriers, suchgrant scheme.This scheme supports as a lack of seating where people canprojects that reduce the effects of land- rest, or inaccessible information, are oftenbased aggregate extraction on access, overlooked. Some barriers work together,biodiversity, communities, geodiversity, for example loose gravel will be moreinformal recreation and landscapes, and difficult on a slope.the scheme can sometimes help withaccess improvements. A barrier may be an important historic feature, or an essential part of a landscape’s character. Alternatively, it may be a more recent feature of no historic significance.This must be clarified so that the appropriate solutions can be found.There is usually greater freedom to remove or alter barriers if they do not have high historic significance. In other cases, it may be necessary to consider how to provide an equivalent experience by alternative means. This sign at Tintern Abbey alerts visitors to the presence of a trip hazard.This clear pictorial sign can be seen by many people with visual impairments and understood by many with learning disabilities. 27
  30. 30. Easy access to historic landscapes Part 2 Identifying barriers When reviewing barriers, people should be encouraged to identify potential Identifying the barriers in a historic solutions as well as simply listing problems, landscape is an essential early step as this will help to balance the ideal in planning improvements. with the achievable. It is important to tell people about existing constraints, Disabled people are the best informed on such as limited budgets, and to highlight what is a barrier to them and barriers will the special qualities of a site. affect people in different ways. Sometimes a barrier to one person may be a positive Access barriers beyond a site must feature to another. For example, steps may be included in any full assessment. be a barrier to wheelchair users, but can For instance, the decision to visit relies be easier than ramps for some older on adequate information about access. visitors and other semi-ambulant people Similarly, a lack of accessible transport to negotiate.The aim is to achieve will be a barrier to some people. compromise and the best way is to involve a representative mix of disabled people in Renovation work can create temporary identifying barriers and possible solutions. barriers to access. Plans for renovations Contacts can be found through the local or other building work must include authority access officer, or through a local solutions to any access barriers disability group or organisation. caused by work in progress.Work at TrafalgarSquare, London, hasresulted in improvedaccess. Steps now havedouble-sided handrailsfor left or right-handedpeople, tactile warningsand contrasting stepnosings.28
  31. 31. Part 2 Easy access to historic landscapesSeasonal changes or weather conditions If plants were positioned nearer thecan lead to temporary barriers such as railings, this wouldmuddy or icy paths. It is important that provide added sensoryvisitors are informed of any temporary experiences.barriers that cannot be removed.Identifying barriers must be an ongoingprocess. Landscapes change with time,signs deteriorate, paths become worn andgates, hinges and latches become difficultto open. Adding obstacles such as moretables, extra display stands, or makinguse of spaces for storage, can causedifficulties for wheelchair users orvisitors with impaired vision.The way that visitors use a place maychange too. For example, increasingnumbers of older and disabled people useself-drive vehicles, also known as buggiesor scooters, to visit historic sites.These Overgrown plants and widened joints mayvehicles have transformed mobility for add character butmany people and have made it possible can result in hazardsfor them to experience more challenging or inconvenience for visitors.parts of the landscape, such as meadows,gravel paths and long-distance routes.Theuse of these vehicles has not been fullyrecognised in much of the existing designguidance, which focuses on wheelchairuse. Paths, turning circles, gate widths andtoilets designed for wheelchair users maynot be adequate for self-drive vehicles. 29
  32. 32. Easy access to historic landscapes Part 2 Examples of barriers Organisational Lack of staff or volunteers to support sites Negative or uninformed staff attitudes Lack of support for access improvements from owners or managers Physical Lack of accessible transport to or around a site Lack of accessible signage, information, education and interpretation materials Narrow paths and entrances, loose or uneven path surfaces, steep slopes and long distances Steps, plinths, kerbs or raised edges and stiles Lack of seating and shelter Deterioration of routes, signs, facilities and features through lack of repair Lack of accessible toilets, baby feeding and baby and adult changing facilities Intellectual Complex information Information does not cater for different learning styles Text-only information Sensory Limited options to touch features Poor acoustics Visitors are not aware of sensory highlights Absence of visual and tactile warnings Social and cultural Publicity does not promote access Inaccessible website Lack of information shared with local community Lack of opportunities for volunteering or friends groups Financial Entrance fees Charges for activities like guided tours and events Cost of goods in café or shop Cost of travelling to and from a site Expenses for volunteers30