Mayor told to improve focus on access in his plan for London


London’s mayor has been told to make a stronger commitment to accessible transport and housing in his masterplan for the city’s development over the next 20 years.

The report by the Planning Inspectorate calls for the mayor’s London Plan to make explicit commitments to “seeking to secure step-free access to public transport wherever feasible” and to providing step-free access when modernising tube and rail stations.

It also calls for the plan to pledge to provide step-free bus access “wherever practical”.

The inspectorate’s report – which follows an “examination in public” (EIP) of the mayor’s draft London plan – also calls for a firm commitment to the need for developers and local authorities to involve disabled people and other service-users when drawing up development policies and proposals.

It says developers should engage with user groups before submitting design and access statements that explain how inclusive design principles have been integrated into a development and how inclusion will be maintained and managed.

And it says borough councils should engage with user groups when drawing up planning policies and “masterplans” to ensure they meet high standards of accessibility and inclusion from the earliest stages of the development.

Anne Kane, policy manager for Inclusion London, said: “We are pleased that the inspectorate has supported improving the mayor’s draft London plan to create better access standards on a number of issues that we focused on in the EIP and we want the mayor to make sure the final plan is amended to incorporate these recommendations.”

Transport for All, the user-led accessible transport charity, said: “The Planning Inspectorate is absolutely right to press TfL on implementing step-free access to London’s stations and bus stops.

“Sixteen years after the Disability Discrimination Act came into force, huge sections of the transport system remain off limits to disabled people.

“TfL have dragged their feet on this for too long. We urge the mayor to prioritise their accessibility programme, and ensure that disabled people are able to get to work, family and friends with the same freedom and independence as everyone else.”

The mayor, Boris Johnson, has already examined the report and has made some changes to his plan based on the inspectorate’s recommendations.

A spokesman for the mayor said a new version of the report included some of the recommendations, but not all of them.

The new version has now been sent to the communities and local government secretary, Eric Pickles, who will decide whether any further changes are needed.

The final version of the London Plan will be published in July.

12 May 2011