Access statements demonstrate how the legislative obligations placed upon developers, designers and service providers are met, or will be met. Access statements are not simply a tool for achieving compliance with Building Regulations, they are to be considered at the inception of the project, through the design and construction process and for the entire life of the building. They are not to be prepared then, when approvals have been received, forgotten about. Access statements are live documents that grow with the project; they are amended not only for different occupational requirements, but also for different uses of the building.
The precise form of an access statement and the level of detail it will contain will vary according to the size, nature and complexity of the proposed development or alteration. Access statements are project specific, although some elements, such as those related to the underlying commitment to accessibility of a company may be more generic.
Basically, there are four stages in the preparation of complete access statements:
Stage 1 - The strategic statement
- List relevant legislation.
- An overview of how accessibility issues will be addressed at both the design phase and also during occupancy.
Stage 2 - Planning
- Details of the site plan.
- State what access issues were considered when formulating the planning application.
- Transport links to the development.
- Means of escape from the building.
Stage 3 - Design
- State which relevant legislative standards and guidance were used.
- Provide solutions to identified problems
Stage 4 - Occupancy
- State proposals for on-going accessibility issues.
- Include maintenance of essential facilities.
Consultation to establish access requirements is a crucial element in the preparation of access statements. Consultation alone will not always provide the solution, there are many technical references however that should be of help.