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NEW REGULATIONS PUBLISHED ON BETTER ACCESS FOR NEW HOMES

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Millions of disabled and elderly people will benefit from easier ...
Millions of disabled and elderly people will benefit from easier

access to new homes following the introduction of new Building

Regulations by the government.

The extension of Part M of the Building Regulations to new homes will

come into force on 25th October next year.

In answer to parliamentary questions yesterday, construction minister Nick Raynsford said:

'I have today laid before parliament - and published - Amendment

Regulations that will extend Part M of the Building Regulations,

covering access and facilities for disabled people, to include new

dwellings. These regulations include transitional provisions. The

effect of the regulations is that, from 25 October 1999, new homes

will have to be built with features that make them better suited to

the needs of disabled people. People will be able to invite disabled

people to visit them in their own homes; and home owners will be able

to remain in their own homes longer as they become less mobile as

they get older.

'The benefits of these changes will be very considerable -

potentially more than 10 million people will benefit. In particular

there will be direct benefits of increased convenience, accessibility

and sociability for disabled people. The measures will also help

significantly those people who are temporarily disabled through

accident or injury and those with young children in prams and

pushchairs.

'The extension of Part M complements this government's commitment to

implement the remaining duties of Part III of the Disability

Discrimination Act. Part III will improve disabled people's access

to goods and services and Part M will ensure better access to new

dwellings. It is better and more cost effective for new homes to be

designed and built with proper facilities - as already happens with

new public and commercial buildings - than to rely on later

piecemeal adjustments.'

The decision to amend the Building Regulations was taken following a

thorough consideration of the responses to the consultation on Part M

and its Approved Document issued by the previous administration in

January 1995 and the consultation on how to bring the new provisions

into force, issued in July this year.

NOTES

Building Regulations are the minimum legal standards laid down by

parliament to secure the health and safety of people in or about

buildings, and are also concerned with energy conservation and access

and facilities for disabled people. They are laid before parliament

and supported by Approved Documents which reproduce the legal

requirements and give practical and technical advice on how to

satisfy these requirements.

On 9 March this year Nick Raynsford announced that he

intended to amend Part M of the Building Regulations 1991 (access and

facilities for disabled people) so that it applies to new dwellings.

At that time Mr Raynsford announced that there will be a 12 month

interval between the publication of the Amendment Regulations and the

coming into effect date. The interval of 12 months is to allow time

for guidance to be developed in support of the proposals and for

building workers to be trained in the new techniques that will be

necessary.

On 27 July this year Mr Raynsford indicated the timing for

the publication and coming into effect of the amendment regulations

and the associated new Approved Document for Part M and the

publication of a consultation paper about the transitional provisions

associated with the Amendment Regulations.

The Building Regulations (Amendment) Regulations 1998 (SI 1998, No.

2561) are published on 26 October 1998 and will come into force on 25

October 1999. These Regulations:

- amend the limits on application so that the scope of Part M will

be extended to new dwellings from 25 October 1999

- contain a new requirement specifically in relation to sanitary

conveniences in new dwellings

In relation to transitional provisions, these Regulations provide

that:

- the new requirements in Part M will not apply to a house or

other relevant building already under construction on 25 October

1999, provided that the construction work began in accordance with

a building notice/deposit of plans and a commencement notice, or in

accordance with an initial notice, amendment notice or public body's

notice;

- houses and other relevant buildings where construction work

starts on or after 25 October 1998 will in general have to comply

with the new requirements in Part M; but

- where full plans of a building have been deposited with and

passed by a local authority before 1 June 1999, or have been the

subject of a plans certificate given by an approved inspector before

1 June 1999, and accepted by the local authority either before or

after that date, the new requirements in Part M will not apply to the

erection of that building even if it starts on or after 25 October

1999.

A new Approved Document, giving practical and technical advice on how

to satisfy the requirements of Part M will be published on 3 November

1998. This will reproduce existing guidance on Part M in relation to

buildings other than dwellings and contain new guidance on the

application of Part M to dwellings. It should be noted that the 1992

Edition of this Approved Document will be withdrawn from 25 October

1999.

The new Approved Document, 'Part M: Access and Facilities for

Disabled People' (1999 Edition, ISBN 0 11 753469 2, price ,7.95) will

be published by TSO. Copies will be available from: TSO Publications

Centre, PO Box 276, London, SW8 5DT (telephone orders - 0171-873

9090, fax orders - 0171-873 8200); and through booksellers.

The department will also publish a Departmental Circular on 3

November. In addition to describing the transitional provisions, this

will: cancel previous advice given on the application of Part M to

student accommodation (this point is now covered in the Approved

Document); explain the links between Part M of the Building

Regulations and planning issues;and contain formal notifications of

the approval of the 1999 Edition of the Approved Document with effect

from 25 October 1999 and the withdrawal of approval of the 1992

Edition of the Approved Document from the same date.

The Departmental Circular, 'The Building Act 1984 - The Building

Regulations (Amendment) Regulations 1998 - New Part M in Schedule 1

to the Building Regulations 1991. New Approved document to support

Part M Access and facilities for Disabled People' (Environmental

Circular 08/98, Welsh Office Circular 36/98) will be published by

TSO. Copies will be available from: TSO Publications Centre, PO Box

276, London, SW8 5DT. Telephone orders: 0171-873 9090, Fax orders:

0171-873 8200); and through TSO bookshops.

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