Remember this debate well nothing has changed since it was first published in 2012……shocking that in 21st century there are still places quoting this reason for no accessibility or toilets for disabled people. Contact us if you’ve experienced this! We will present to government


April 2, 2012: Having researched disabled facilities at restaurants and bars in London over the last two decades, I have often heard the following from restauranteurs:

‘we don’t have a ramp (&/or disabled toilet) as this is a Grade II Listed Building……. ‘

The latest restaurant to say this to me was Sketch in Conduit St. W1. I wanted to take advantage of their offer to see the Hockney Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, followed by lunch in their Michelin starred Library & Lecture Room. However, there is a flight of stairs to negotiate before getting to the restaurant and no lift, but their staff were very willing to help and would carry me upstairs. There is also no ramp for the steps at  the main entrance or steps down to the disabled toilet on the ground floor – …’ because…. Grade  II etc.etc.’.

Being fair to Sketch they did say they looked at putting a lift in but couldn’t find a way to do it. Have they heard of the ‘stair climber’ I used at Leicester Square theatre???? Maybe I should show them my video??

This prompted me to contact English Heritage and find out why Disabled facilities were such a hassle in Grade II Listed buildings. I couldnt imagine that they deliberately excluded people with disabilities from their Grade II & I buildings. Here is their response:

‘…… Providing full access can be a challenge in listed buildings, but it is rarely the case that improvements cannot be achieved  at all . In the case which you mentioned to us,  it would have been the local authority, rather than English Heritage that dealt with the listed building consent application as they are Grade  II  listed buildings and English Heritage only advises on Grade  II * and Grade  I  listed buildings . Generally we encourage creative, high quality solutions to improving access. As you will see from our guidance: there is actually quite a lot you can do to improve access in  listed buildings.  If you ever want to visit our sites, I can let you know that as of autumn this year we will have a new access guide available which will have much more comprehensive access information to help you plan your visit. All of our properties will have their own access information on our website too.’

They referred me to their Guidance Notes . The document did indeed have great examples of ‘creative solutions’. They mention portable ramps, a very cheap option and one I always mention to venues, as well as stair climbers. Even The Wellington Arch has a lift!!


So, unperturbed I contacted the City of Westminster  saying:

‘I have contacted English Heritage regarding the Grade II Listed building that is the restaurant Sketch, in Conduit St. and they referred me to yourselves. I would like to know why this building is inaccessible to disabled diners?

This appears to be just one of many restaurants in the City of Westminster that uses the Grade II listing as a reason why they cannot have a ramp or disabled toilet. Can you please comment as users of my site would be very interested.’

I am awaiting a reply, so as they say in  TV Land ………..To Be Continued……….!


Leave a Reply

  1. David VALENTINE

    What no reply after nearly 3 years?

    1. Fiona Jarvis Listing Owner

      Yes we keep plugging at it!!

  2. Keith R Hirons

    London is not the only place to use this get out, here in north Devon the local and borough Councils use this as a means to stop access to listed building, churches, and social functions, their attitude is totally discriminatory towards disabled, elderly and people with pushchairs. I live in Ilfracombe and was shocked at the attitude by what are supposed to be councils who should be looking after their local community. refurbishments are carried out on a lot of buildings here and disabled access is ignored.

    1. Fiona Jarvis Listing Owner

      This is so annoying and yet the government says the Equality Act is sufficient regulation for ‘accessibility’ laws. There are too many exemptions and we have to sue to get anything changed!!

  3. marie edge

    Most of my local town is not disabled friendly, a pub has just been purchased by amber taverns and had major refurb done there was a ramp there original but not to disabled standards instead of updating it they have removed it and said cause it a grade 2 they dont have to make it accessable!

    1. Fiona Jarvis Listing Owner

      Unbelievable they could eb so ignorant of the Law

  4. Liz Jarvis

    Just found your website. Having a battle, no surely not ! new outlet selling frozen ready meals. The question, ramp to access the one step down into this high street shop (Cook, New Romney, Kent) no can not, have a ramp the rest you know… can not believe it.

  5. Simon Parker

    I use a wheelchair. I am at a dentist in Plymouth which is a listed building. I have to sit in the waiting room while my son has treatment on a different floor. It has no lift nor does it have lift facilities. The reason I have been given is it is a listed building. In this day and age it is not good enough.

  6. Rosemaria

    Boots Hearing and Eye Centre in the Square at Wimborne Dorset has 2 unequal height and very worn uneven stone steps to the main entrance with no handrail. I am on crutches following a hip replacement and was unable to navigate those steps unaided. BUT Covid regulations meant nobody wanted to help me up the steps. Just as well perhaps because how on earth would I have managed to go down them?. Another listed building excuse. Wimborne council revamped the Square a few years ago and removed the parking spaces in the centre to “make room for a cafe style coffee area “instead. No coffee area just grey paving and disabled parking moved away from main shopping area. How about a stipulation that there must be disabled people on all committees in local councils?

    1. Fiona Jarvis Listing Owner

      That would be a great idea. Thank you for your input