Compliance & TORB
The Compliance Unit is responsible for monitoring, auditing, giving advice and certifying applications that are made for the development of buildings which are open to the public. The Unit works with architects and developers to ensure that the plans which are eventually approved are accessible for disabled people.
The unit’s role is primarily that of receiving planning applications from the Planning Authority for its consideration on whether they are compliant with the Access for All Design Standards. Where the plans are not compliant, the technical experts in the Unit prepare an audit report which shows the amendments which need to be made in order for the development to be approved.
In the case of new buildings, the applicant is required to obtain a certificate from CRPD stating that the plans are compliant with the Access for All Design Guidelines, before the Planning Authority issues a compliance certificate to allow for water and electricity to be connected to the development.
The Unit offers a consultation service at the Planning Authority offices on Wednesdays, where a CRPD technical expert provides technical advice regarding physical accessibility to those who were in the process of submitting development applications.
In cases where the building cannot be rendered accessible to all or be fully accessible to all according to the Access for All Design Standards, the applicant may appear before the Test of Reasonableness Board (TORB). This is a board which considers exemptions on technical and financial reasons. This board meets once a month to hear cases.
TEST OF REASONABLENESS BOARD
CRPD’s operation to safeguard the Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act does not only involve the investigation of complaints received for a possible solution. CRPD is also continuously engaged in offering advice on the implementation and enforcement of the Act, to both persons with disability and their family members (those directly affected) as well as other people in society on whom the Act imposes certain obligations (those indirectly affected).
CRPD coordinates this operation within the framework of what Article 20 of the same Act defines “reasonable”. To assist in its decision-making in particular cases, CRPD has a board that meets regularly and helps it to decide what should be considered reasonable or otherwise.
It is worth mentioning that for 13 years, this board has functioned without being statutorily appointed. This situation has now changed thanks to the amendments to the Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act which entered into force on the 10th May 2016. This board is now set up under Article 20A of the same Act, appointed by the Commissioner for three years and at least half of the board should be composed of persons with disability or persons with disability’s family members in case they cannot represent themselves. In these two categories, persons with disability should be in the majority.
Also present for every board meeting is one of the Commission’s architects, in the role of technical consultant. The Commission’s draughtspersons are present as board secretaries on an alternating basis.