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Accessible environments

We are committed to promoting access to the built and natural environment for everyone in the community. This includes accessible facilities for disabled and elderly people, and those with young children. By means of its planning and building control powers, the Council will encourage inclusive design in all new developments so as to achieve ‘access for all’.

Inclusive design 

Applications for development of and, where practicable and reasonable, the change of use or alterations to buildings open to the public, and buildings used for employment or education purposes, will normally be required to provide suitable access and facilities for disabled people, including those with sensory impairments.

Mobility housing

To increase the choice of housing available to disabled people the Borough Council will seek to negotiate agreement with developers to construct a proportion of ‘Mobility Housing’ on suitable sites. Current and future needs of disabled and elderly people.

View the Mobility Housing planning guidance here (PDF). This guidance should be read in conjunction with the Policy Statement update on Housing Standards (PDF).

Access improvement grants

Owners and occupiers, including voluntary organisations, of the following types of building qualify for consideration for the award of an Access Improvement Grant:

  • Small independent shops
  • Community halls
  • Village halls
  • Places of Worship
  • Museums
  • Places of entertainment and leisure
  • Hotels

Eligible works include the provision of:

  • Ramps or level entrances and exits
  • Wider doorways and corridors
  • Wheelchair-accessible lifts
  • Handrails on steps and stairs
  • Toilets for wheelchair-users
  • Car parking spaces designated for Disabled Badge Holders
  • Signs and other facilities to help people with impaired sight
  • Communication aids for hearing-impaired people
  • Any facilities which, in the Council's opinion, will improve access

Grants may be awarded up to 50% of the cost of the eligible works, up to a maximum of £1000. The Council has the power to recover all or part of the grant if the applicant's interest, or any part of that interest, if the building is sold, exchanged or leased within 3 years of the date of the final payment of the grant to the applicant or if the applicant fails to maintain the improvement works to the Council's satisfaction.

Access Improvement Grant Application Form and Guidance Notes (PDF)

For more information, contact the Council’s Disability Equality and Access Officer.

Bedford and District Access Group

The Bedford and District Access Group is an independent voluntary group of disabled people, carers and others with an interest in promoting good accessibility to buildings and services. The Council recognises the importance of regular consultation with the Access Group and other groups representing the interests of disabled people.

Disability Equality and Access Officer

The Council has an Access Officer with responsibility for:

  • promoting equality of access to a convenient and accessible environment for all the community
  • providing guidance to the Council and its operational managers on the impact of disability legislation on the delivery of their services

The Disability Equality and Access Officer can be contacted at:

Bedford Borough Council
4th Floor
Borough Hall
Caldwell Street
Bedford
MK42 9AP
01234 718565  (textphone 01234 718828)