There are no statutory standards that apply to improving access to most countryside and open spaces. Working in these areas therefore relies on using advisory standards and approaches that have been widely adopted as representing best practice.
Which standards to use
Access standards identify benchmarks for access improvements, but the huge variety of open spaces and countryside makes it unrealistic to seek a one-size-fits-all approach. It is a case of selecting the standards that best fit your situation.
Access standards for countryside
We recommend these two sets of standards for countryside sites, from country parks to open countryside:
- Countryside for All standards. These are widely used for benchmarking access work across a wide range of landscape types. They were developed by Fieldfare Trust in 1995 so need updating, but they are still reliable.
- By All Reasonable Means. Developed by Sensory Trust for Natural England and Natural Resources Wales, this introduced the approach of least restrictive access to take account of more physically challenging sites.
Access standards for historic landscapes
We recommend the following for historic gardens and landscapes:
- Easy Access to Historic Landscapes. Developed through a collaboration between Historic England and Sensory Trust, this guide provides recommendations and standards.
- Countryside for All standards. (as above)
- By All Reasonable Means. (as above)
Access standards for urban parks, buildings and their approaches
These statutory standards that relate to the inclusive design of buildings and their approaches. They are also valuable benchmarks for more forma landscapes, such as urban parks:
- Part M of the Building Regulations
- British Standard 8300:2009 Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people. Code of Practice.
These are important for the design of facilities like cafes and visitor centres. Even in situations where the building regulations do not apply, they provide valuable details on features such as car parks, toilets, handrails etc. The standards relate to disability, not the wider requirements of the Equality Act, so it is important to recognise this when using them, even in situations where the building regulations apply.