Case Study: Castle Park

Access audit, consultation and guidance on a key strategic development project run by Bristol City Council, which will help improve the accessibility of Castle Park in the centre of Bristol.

Overview

The City Centre Development and Delivery Plan is a project by Bristol City Council to find out what local communities want from the city centre of Bristol, particularly open places like Castle Park, Broadmead and the Galleries. The council are working with local residents, businesses, landowners, developers and other stakeholders to understand how to improve the area; the plan is a very important project that will guide the long term transformation of Bristol centre for years to come. The council commissioned WECIL to advise on this project and help provide vital information from those with lived experience of Disability.

Photograph of a map signalisation in Castle Park

The Challenge

One of the key challenges that Castle Park presents in terms of physical accessibility is areas with extreme height differences. The council wants to make the park feel safer, improve navigation and the ways that people get around the park, as well as making the space feel connected to the adjacent river and to the city centre instead of separated. For designs in the public realm it is so important to ensure new proposals are accessible in practice for everyone, which left the council seeking consultation with Disabled people with lived experience to get advice on their plans.

Our Solution

To assist the City Centre Development and Delivery Plan proposals, we delivered an access audit of the park with our WAIT team. We evaluated the ideas and maps put forward by landscape architects in a practical and professional way, looking at existing problems in the space and suggesting changes. To respond to the challenge of the height difference, we discussed some of the problems that the obvious solution of a lift can cause – such as maintenance, vandalism and people feeling unsafe in it – and talked about alternative solutions, like a ramp. We also advised on things like tactile surfaces and benches, drawing attention to the urban design guidelines on accessibility in the public realm and how the council can ensure these are met and taken into consideration from the initial stages. Our approach was future focused, and after the physical audit, we delivered a report outlining measures the council can think about.

Photograph of a person in a wheelchair in Castle Park

The Outcome

The outcome is an informative, impactful and useful audit and report that Bristol City Council can use for years to come in the development plan for Castle Park. Not only does it provide information and suggestions that have been a key influence in the current designs of the park, but WAIT brought a lot of detailed knowledge and experience that the team will continue to implement at later stages of the project. The council found the in-person audit a very impactful piece of work that helped educate staff and communicate the ‘why’ behind accessibility measures.

What They Say

“WECIL are a great partner to work with on the Castle Park aspect for the City Centre Development and Delivery Plan. We found them professional, they offered a lot of their lived experience and knowledge to help us form plans that will hopefully make Castle Park as welcoming as possible.”

Bristol City Council

Inclusivity is a mindset, not a tick box exercise. We help you identify areas to improve, and support you in finding manageable solutions.

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