Accessibility should be at the heart of modern urban development, ensuring cities are built to serve everyone equitably. By adopting innovative planning, strategic partnerships and technological integration, a considerable difference can be made to people’s quality of life.

The bustling city life offers a vibrant tapestry of culture, commerce, and community. Yet, for individuals with disabilities, this tapestry often presents a labyrinth of barriers. An ITV report shed light on the ‘tough’ and ‘exhausting’ realities of disabled access in the city, prompting a need for immediate and impactful change.

The report serves as a stark reminder that the physical and psychological toll of an inaccessible environment cannot be overstated. Inadequate disabled access extends beyond the individual; it affects families, friends, and the broader community. Limited access to public spaces restricts social interaction, employment opportunities, and even basic daily activities such as shopping or attending appointments.

To pave the way for more inclusive cities, we must address several key areas:

  • Capacity development
    We must build the capabilities of local authorities, urban planners, and service providers through training programmes on disability awareness, accessibility standards, and best practices. By equipping professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills, we can drive positive change and improve compliance with accessibility standards, such as Part M of the Building Regulations.
  • Examine best practices
    Cities like Barcelona and Seattle have become paragons of accessible urban design. By examining their approaches, from tactile paving to audible traffic signals, we can gain valuable insights for our own inclusivity efforts.
  • Embrace technology
    Technology plays a pivotal role in creating more accessible and inclusive cities. By integrating smart infrastructure, assistive technologies, and data-driven insights, cities can create a more inclusive environment for all residents and visitors.
  • Cultivate engagement and participation
    Local governments must establish mechanisms for meaningful participation, ensuring that marginalised groups have a voice in shaping urban policies and programmes. This approach creates a sense of ownership and empowers citizens to advocate for their needs.
  • Monitor progress and accountability
    Cities need to establish clear indicators to assess their progress towards accessibility and implement accountability mechanisms to hold stakeholders responsible. This level of transparency and reporting is crucial in maintaining momentum and demonstrating compliance with laws such as the Equality Act to address any barriers in society.


Accessibility as a gateway to growth

Accessibility is not just a legal and moral obligation through its close relationship with the Equality Act; it’s an economic one. Businesses and services that are accessible to all enjoy a wider customer base, increased loyalty, and a stronger reputation. Creating truly inclusive cities requires a holistic approach that combines legal obligations, community engagement, capacity building, and continuous monitoring. By prioritising accessibility and embracing diversity, we can pave the way for urban environments where everyone can thrive.

We are committed to championing inclusive urban living. We believe that through close collaboration with local governments and other public sector bodies, we can drive substantial positive change. Our diverse expertise spans key areas within our place services, including urban design and planning, compliance within building regulations, place-shaping and property and asset solutions. We welcome the opportunity to work together to identify the challenges facing diverse communities, co-create solutions that enhance accessibility, affordability, and quality of life, and forge partnerships between public and private sectors to implement impactful changes.

Let’s connect

To delve deeper into how you can pave the way for a more inclusive future, contact me at to discuss how you can make a real difference for citizens.

Together, we can build cities that leave no one behind.

Written by

Steve Ottewell

Steve Ottewell

Director of Business Development – Place

Steve is a chartered town planner with over 15 years’ experience across the private and public sector. Steve has worked for Capita for over 12 years in various technical and managerial positions, most recently taking on overall responsibility for the business development of our Place proposition.

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