Neighbourhoods for every age

Shows the street of a new housing development with driveways for cars but no footpath for peopleTwo case studies are used by Lisa Stafford and Claudia Baldwin to illustrate the need to utilise universal design principles in neighbourhood planning and design. Using the experiences of children and older adults they discuss how universal design is the bridging concept for joined up thinking for greater liveability for all ages. However, entrenched practices based on compliance leave no space for the application of voluntary guidelines whether for one age group or another. Designing universally requires the involvement of users of all ages and abilities in the design development stage. Inviting them to comment at a later stage assumes only cosmetic changes are needed to the “grand design”.

The authors mention universalism, a concept raised by Rob Imrie who claims that some UD advocates are ambivalent about specialist designs, and due to the political landscape, overcoming barriers will take more than just universal design concepts. The authors agree with Imrie that applying universal design principles in urban planning processes is not therefore the answer to everything. Also, more research is needed in this field to sort through the issues of politics and practice, and disability justice.

Planning neighbourhoods for all ages and abilities: A multi-generational perspective, is an academic paper. It has several photographs illustrating the findings and the points made. You can also download Imrie’s paper from ReseachGate

Dr Lisa Stafford is a Director of CUDA.