Is It That Difficult To Build Step-Free Access?

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 96 months ago
Is It That Difficult To Build Step-Free Access?

It hasn't been a good day for accessibility: we reported earlier in the year that TfL's abandoned step-free access schemes had cost £20m, but the Standard has information indicating the true cost is closer to £64m.

£39m went on Shepherds Bush alone, doing preparatory work, designing and building lift shafts before it became clear the project would be too difficult and was jacked in last October. Work at Amersham, Greenford, Ladbroke Grove, Newbury Park, Osterley and West Kensington had to be stopped when TfL realised they didn't have the cash to finish the projects. Is this bad planning by TfL, or are they the victims of budget cuts?

Meanwhile, the new sixth form block at Hay Lane School in Brent, which caters for pupils with special needs, was built with ramps too steep for wheelchairs. Just one pupil is currently being taught in the building. We can understand massive station projects running into trouble (though perhaps not the amount of cash spunked into nothingness), you'd have thought it wouldn't be too tricky to sort out a ramp.

Last Updated 21 April 2010


I'm currently working on a video projecton the very subject and yep it baffles belief how short sighted a lot of companies are when it comes to ramps and facilities/access for wheelchairs.

The hotel that provides a ramp to the swimming pool that is so steep should anyone in a wheelchair use it, one slip of the hand on wheel and they'dcend up in the water. Wheelchair et al. Also there is no hoist by the pool to get anyone in or out!

The bank that has a ramp just too steep that no one has ever managed to get a wheel chair up it even being pushed!

The list goes on so TfLs attempt/failure is nothing in comparisson to what is already out there or rather not!


for a start, buidling ANYTHING underground next to train lines is slow/expensive and very difficult. Building things to the standards required of tfl (with attendent insurances, suitably trained operatives, fire testing etc etc etc) is also very very tricky.

Modern disabled access recomendations are not insignificantly difficult to comply with either, ramps compliant with modern building regs are almost never an option for rising significatn heights, typically to rise 3 steps, you need something like a 10m run including the landings. small stair lifts and platform lifts block existing stairs so cant be used,

I'm kind of amazed they got that far with shepherds bush but sometimes I'm amazed they even bothered trying.