Access Audits and changes to BS8300

Changes to BS8300 introduce higher standards for inclusive design

BS8300 has long been seen as the bible for Access Auditors providing the most comprehensive and authoritative guidance on all aspects of Inclusive Design and forming the main criteria document for most Access Audits . This standard was updated in February 2009 when BS8300:2009 was issued.

The new standard has introduced new and updated guidance in a number of areas reflecting improvements in Inclusive Design practice and feedback from the implementation of the 2004 edition of the Approved Document to Part M of the Building Regulations.

Some of these changes will have a significant impact on Inclusive Design practice in particular for large public buildings and hotels. Access Auditors and Consultants, Architects and clients need to be aware of these changes and we highlight the most significant ones below:

  • Car Parking – The updated standard now requires enlarged standard spaces which can be converted to fully accessible spaces at a later date if demand dictates.

    There is now also a requirement for an enlarged space for an adapted van.

    I must admit that I find the enlarged space requirement to be something of a ‘;red herring’ as most operators would simply re-mark line markings if demand required it rather than loosing spaces by doing this in advance.

    The provision for over sized space for an adapted van does seem a good idea particularly in larger buildings or ‘care’ environments where there is likely to be a demand for this type of vehicle.

  • Approach Routes – Slopes between 1:20 and 1:60 should now incorporate rest landings for every 500mm of rise.

    I feel this is a sensible change as many designers were simply designing ramps at 1:21 gradient to avoid the need for any rest landings, aswell as handrails, thus ignoring the fact that a slope at this gradient may still prove very arduous for a disabled person to negotiate

  • Stairs – Numerous changes have been made to the guidance on stairs including dimensional changes to risers and treads aswell as handrail heights.

    However the changes that stood out for me relate to Handrail dimensions and materials. The standard now acknowledges that profiles other than standard oval or circular can be suitable.

    It also recognises the potential effect of cold handrails on some users but does recognise that stainless steel can be an acceptable material.

    I feel this goes some way to recognise that the durability of a handrail material has to be a significant consideration in many instances.

  • Travel Distances to toilets – The maximum travel distance has been reduced from 100 to 40 metres which brings the standard in line with ADM.

  • Changing Places – This is a new concept which applies to large public buildings and spaces where a disabled user may stay for an extended period.

    A ‘Changing Place’ is an enlarged accessible toilet and changing room with hoist and changing table which has sufficient room for two carers.

    This will be of great benefit to many disabled users who require a significant degree of assistance when toileting and changing and will open up many facilities which previously may have proved off limits.

    From a designer and client perspective these enlarged rooms will have implications for both space planning and cost and they are to be provided in addition to standard accessible toilets.

  • Hotels – The guidance extends the proportion of accessible bedrooms required from 5% of overall provision to 10% plus a further 5% of bedrooms capable of conversion at a later date.

    5% of bedrooms will be of standard accessible design with a further 5% incorporating a fixed hoist from bedroom to ensuite bathroom.

    This change has significant implications for hotel operators who, in our experience, will be very resistant to this change based on the current demand they experience for accessible rooms, the appeal of the hoist rooms to non-disabled guests and the cost of providing the additional rooms in terms of both ‘pounds and pence’ and loss of bedroom numbers.

    The statistical basis for this change is unclear and we anticipate this standard being challenged over the coming years on the basis of demand in particular.

What designers, auditors and clients should remember is that BS8300 is a Code of Practice only and compliance with it is not compulsory.

When considering an Access Audit of an existing building auditors should be clear that this is a guidance document for the design of new buildings and, as with any audit it should be used as a benchmarking tool against which the Access Auditor should make a judgement as to what is reasonable under the DDA.

What is reasonable is rarely to comply 100% with current design standards and clients should view with caution any Access Audit report which calls for wholesale alterations to an existing building to bring it into compliance with this standard.

Click on the link to read more about DDA Audits or contact me by email or phone on 01242 531413.