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Outdoor Spaces and Buildings

Older people in Bristol can access outdoor spaces and buildings that meet their needs.

The environment and buildings in a community have a major impact on an older person’s quality of life. We want a city where older people are able to ‘age in place’ where they can remain mobile and have easy access to services. This includes having barrier-free public space and buildings that are useable and accessible for people with disabilities or mobility difficulties and having urban environments that support belonging, continuity and sense of self.  

National cuts to local government funding have had a significant impact on outdoor spaces being Age-friendly. A reduction in the number of public toilets, benches and parks means that the city is working to find other ways of providing these services


Factors affecting Outdoor Spaces and Buildings 


Recent cuts to the Council funding has meant that most public toilets in Bristol have been closed and the Council are working to find alternative offers through existing businesses and community spaces. In the meantime, communities such as Bedminster and Greater Brislington have created their own Toilet Maps. The toilet maps are a community resource highlighting public spaces like cafes, museums and shopping centres where people can use the bathroom free of charge. Having places of interest that are free of charge such as the museums, events and art galleries plays a part in making these kind of spaces easier to access. 

Seats and Benches

Older people have also told us that seats and benches are often set out in parks and near views but sometimes more practical settings would be useful, e.g. half way up a steep road etc. Older people would also welcome benches that were set out to encourage social interaction. Parks are often not designed with older people in mind. 

Clear Streets

A recurring theme in conversations with older people has been around pavement clutter. Obstacles on the pavements such as parked cars, bins and low hanging branches often mean an older person is forced to step out onto the road. Pavements could be kept in better condition and many would like to see more dropped kerbs. Bristol Walking Alliance (a consortium of organisations and individuals campaigning to improve Bristol’s walking environment) has been doing a lot of work around this area in their efforts to ban pavement parking. They are currently working on a campaign to prevent cars parking on the pavement. 


Key actions

  • Support Cultural events and institutions in Bristol to adopt Arts Council England’s Age-friendly standard.

  •  Comfort and Facilities project will improve access to seating and toilets for older people in Bristol

  •  Apply learning from BS3 walkability study by Local activist Ben Barker and students from UWE.  

  • Bristol Walk Fest will run annually and encourage older people to navigate the city on foot.

  • Work with Bristol Health Partners’ Supporting Healthy Inclusive Neighbourhood Environments Health Integration Team (SHINE HIT) to evidence how neighbourhood environments can be more Age-friendly 


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Age-friendly Bristol

An age-friendly city is a city that encourages active ageing by optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance the quality of life as people age - World Health Organisation

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The Partnership

Age-friendly Bristol is a partnership made up of Bristol Ageing Better, Age UK Bristol and Bristol City Council.

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The World Health Organisation have developed a framework for tackling such wide ranging issues in a way which is designed to improve the quality of life of older people – the Age-friendly City network.

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