Jane Stoneham


Jane Stoneham is Director of the Sensory Trust, working closely with Stuart and Victoria to develop strategic direction and vision for the organisation. She applies her skills in inclusive design through project work in the UK and internationally.

With an MPhil and BSc (Hons) in landscape design and management, her work focuses on building richer connections between people and place, and ensuring access for everyone, regardless of age, disability and background.

“We help people see their environment in new ways - to take a fresh view of somewhere familiar, use all their senses, create memories. Inclusive design is about much more than the technical access issues. We focus on sensory experience as well as physical access because understanding what makes a place resonate to different people reveals the recipes we need for building more inclusive, engaging and meaningful experiences for everyone”.

Jane joined the Sensory Trust in 1996 to set up its first national office in Swindon. On a trajectory looking suspiciously headed for southern Spain, she moved the Trust to Bath and then to Cornwall where it is now comfortably settled.

"The move to Cornwall was a real turning point for the Trust. It’s where everything suddenly fell into place. I was joined by a group of talented people who have made a wonderfully creative, multi-disciplinary team. I’m convinced that creative responses to issues like diversity and social exclusion can only come from a melting pot of people from different disciplines. It challenges all of us to think differently".

Consultancy work includes integrating inclusive design within sustainable design, placemaking and community engagement. Clients include the Eden Project, local authorities, design practices, healthcare and care providers, development companies and environmental bodies. She has built a close partnership between Sensory Trust and the Eden Project and collaborations around the world, particularly in the USA, Japan, mainland Europe and Australia.

Early work included working with people with learning disabilities and sparked frustrations from seeing how service provision conspires to segregate people. It convinced Jane of the need to promote an inclusive approach to the planning and design of outdoor places, so everyone can enjoy everyday experiences like visiting parks and countryside.

Prior to joining Sensory Trust, Jane ran a landscape consultancy and undertook a mix of project delivery and research work. As Research Fellow at the Research Institute for Care of the Elderly in Bath she researched the importance of landscape in the quality of older people’s lives. Consultancy work included designing retirement schemes around the country and the research and design work formed the basis of her book ‘Landscape Design for Elderly and Disabled People’. Work with Learning through Landscapes focused on schoolground design for children with special needs, resulting in the book ‘Grounds for Sharing’.

As part-time lecturer at the University of Reading Jane set up new undergraduate and postgraduate courses in social landscape and therapeutic horticulture and she continues to support student studies and courses as much as she can within her Sensory Trust work.

Jane has written widely on the subject, including co-authoring the national guides for English Heritage and Natural England.

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Email Jane jstoneham@sensorytrust.org.uk

Jane talking about inclusive design and the Sensory Trust's work with the Eden Project

Jane talking recently at the Burrenbeo's Place Based Learning conference