DCAN 11(Draft): Access for all - Designing for an Accessible Environment
Legislation and Codes of Practice (Page 4 of 5)
The Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000
3.25 The Building Regulations, Part R: ‘Access and Facilities for Disabled People’, require new buildings and certain extensions to have provisions that enable disabled people to access them and use their facilities.
3.26 Guidance on technical standards which meet the requirements of the Regulations can be found in Technical Booklet R: ‘Access and Facilities for Disabled People’ (Dec 2000). In the case of educational buildings, guidance can be found in Building Bulletin 91 (see paragraph 3.8)
3.27 In the case of non-residential buildings, the requirements of Part R are for the benefit of disabled people who are visitors to the building or who work in it. These can be satisfied where reasonable provision is made for disabled people so that:
- there is a suitable access to the building from the point of entrance at the boundary and from all car parking within the site;
- elements of the building do not constitute a hazard for a person with a sight impairment;
- access is possible into and within any storey of the building;
- the building’s facilities can be accessed and used;
- suitable sanitary accommodation is provided;
- wheelchair user positions are provided in a building which contains audience or spectator seating;
- aids to communication for people with a hearing impairment are catered for in auditoria, conference rooms and ticket offices.
3.28 In the case of residential buildings, the requirements of Part R are for the benefit of disabled visitors. These can be satisfied where reasonable provision is made for disabled people so that:
- there is suitable access to the building from the boundary of the plot or the point of alighting from a vehicle on the driveway.
- there is access into habitable rooms and a sanitary convenience on the entrance storey or the principal storey.
- switches and sockets are located at convenient heights
- reasonable provision must be made to allow disabled people to visit occupants who live in flats.
3.29 Whilst Technical Booklet R aims to ensure that buildings are accessible and useable by people with disabilities, designers and developers are encouraged to go beyond the level of provision required. In effect buildings should be designed from the start with an inclusive environment in mind, rather than being adapted at a later stage to comply with the requirements of the Building Regulations.
3.30 At present Part R of the Building Regulations applies to all new buildings and certain extensions. For example, an extension to an existing building where Part R applied to the existing building when it was erected; or an extension to an existing building which is independently approached.
3.31 Where an existing building is to be altered (or a change of use is proposed) the Regulations require that any access and facilities should not be made any worse. It should however be noted that there is an ongoing review of the Building Regulations throughout the UK in relation to the requirements for access and facilities for disabled people. As a consequence Part R is likely to be strengthened.