An attractive appearance is of little use if customers cannot gain access to your shop. Easy access benefits everyone, including disabled and elderly people, those with push chairs and young children, and customers with bags of shopping. Disabilities include not only limited physical mobility, but also visual and other sensory impairments.
Good access is a material consideration in planning terms, and must comply with current Building Regulations and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. New premises will be expected to comply with current legislation and standards of access. Replacement and refurbished shop fronts in existing premises should remove or alter physical barriers that prevent disabled people gaining access.
Key features of good access are as follows:
- Approach routes and areas adjacent to shop fronts should be kept free from obstructions
- A-frame hoardings, goods on display and similar obstructions are not allowed on any footway (pavement) which is part of the highway
- The entrance should have a level approach and flush threshold doors should be readily identifiable.
- Unframed glass doors should be made more visible by banding at eye level.
- Door handles should be clearly colour-distinguished from their background and easy to use.
- Doors should have at least 925mm clear opening width preferred (800mm minimum) and have at least 300mm space alongside the leading edge; automatic doors are preferred, especially for larger units.
- Avoid heavy, spring closing doors.
- On name-boards and advertising signs, lower-case letters (with initial capitals where necessary) are easier to read than ALL CAPITALS.
- Overhead projections such as canopies and shop signs should have a minimum clearance of 2500mm above ground level.
- Where an ATM or other public access terminal is incorporated in the shop front, this should not project beyond the main facade and should adhere to separate layout and design standards.
Further details regarding the Disability Discrimination Act can be found at the Office of Public Sector Information.