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Common mistakes made by designers when applying Technical Guidance Document M to the design of new buildings

In this, and upcoming newsletters, O’Herlihy Access Consultancy would like to highlight some of the common mistakes made by designers in relation to the application of Technical Guidance Document M 2010 (TGD M 2010)  to demonstrate compliance with Part M. This applies in particular to applications for a Disability Access Certificate for a variety of works including new builds; material alterations; material changes of use and extensions to existing buildings.  In this newsletter we would like to demonstrate some common mistakes made in the initial design relating to new builds.

As outlined in Section 20 D (3) (b) II of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2009, it is the applicants/designers obligation to clearly demonstrate to the relevant Building Control Authority that if the works are constructed in accordance with the said plans and other particulars, they will comply with the requirements of Part M of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations.

Section 0.6 (Application of Part M) of TGD M 2010 states that the requirements of Part M apply to works in connection with new buildings and new dwellings. Section 0.5 of TGD M states that Section 1 of TGD M 2010 applies to both new and existing buildings. 

The following are some of the shortcomings in some of the recent initial designs of new buildings that have been reviewed by O’Herlihy Access Consultancy:

  1. On-site setting down areas: Section 1.1.6 of TGD M requires that where there is a road leading to the building then a set down area should be provided.  This is sometimes overlooked and only accessible car parking bays are provided (note 5% of accessible bays are also required).
  2. On-site car parking: Where on-site car parking is provided, access at the head of the bay leading directly to a footpath is rarely shown.  This is important as a person with a mobility impairment will not have to travel behind parked cars or through the main car park. 
  3. Internal Lobbies: Section indicates that any internal lobby to a wheelchair accessible area must be designed in accordance with section 1.2.5 of TGD M 2010.  A number of recent designs have failed to meet this guidance.
  4. Ambulant disabled stairwells where a lift is proposed in a new building: Section of TGD M 2010 states that at least one stairwell suitable for ambulant disabled people is required even when a lift is installed in a new building.   However a number of designers are still applying the guidance relating to TGD M 2000 and not providing an ambulant disabled stairwell when a lift is proposed.
  5. Effective clear width of internal doors: Section of TGD M (see also Diagram 10) sets out the guidance in relation to the effective clear width of doors.  It is clear from a number of floor plans reviewed that the effective clear width of 800mm minimum has not been taken into account where doors do not open beyond 90 degrees.
  6. Handed layouts in unisex accessible WCs: Section of TGD M 2010 states “Where more than one wheelchair-accessible unisex WC is provided, the layouts should be handed.  Rationale:  This facilitates both left and right handed transfer techniques onto the WC”.  In a number of recently reviewed designs only right hand transfer was catered for when there was more than one unisex accessible WC proposed.
  7. Accessible Signage: Section 1.6.3 requires that where sign directories and orientations signs are provided they must comply with the recommendations of BS8300:2009.   Therefore the signs should be visual and in tactile form when low enough to be touched.  Tactile signs should also be designed using embossed text, symbols and/ or Braille.  

If you would like further information on design implications of Part M 2010 or would like further information on how to carry out an initial review of a proposed design please do not hesitate to contact one of our team on 01-4151285 or e-mail [email protected].