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 outdoor routes and sites
We recommend these standards for sites and routes, from urban landscapes to open countryside:
- Outdoor Accessibility Guidance. Designed to help make our outdoor places and spaces, routes and facilities more accessible, and outdoor experiences more inclusive, so they can be enjoyed by everyone. It is written for anyone managing land for public access and recreation, including land managers, community trusts, community groups and volunteers, access and recreation teams and owners. Commissioned by Paths for All and written by Sensory Trust it is an update of Countryside for All.
- By All Reasonable Means. Developed by Sensory Trust for Natural England and Natural Resources Wales, this introduces the approach of least restrictive access to take account of more physically challenging sites.
- Easy Access to Historic Landscapes. Developed through a collaboration between Historic England, Sensory Trust, Heritage Lottery and National Trust, this guide provides recommendations and standards.
Access standards for built environment and approaches to buildings
These statutory standards that relate to the inclusive design of buildings and their approaches. They are also valuable benchmarks for more formal landscapes, such as urban parks:
- Part M of the Building Regulations
- BS 8300-1:2018 Design of an accessible and inclusive built environment – external environment. Code of Practice. British Standards Institute.
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.