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66 ACCESSIBILITY; HEATING, VENTILATION & SERVICES


In its recent consultation, the Government sought to gain opinions on five different options for strengthening accessibility standards in the UK


Option 4 would make Category 2 the new base standard, but also set a fixed percentage of homes that would have to meet Category 3, and therefore be adapted for wheelchair users. Finally, Option 5 would seek to keep Part M Category 1, but make it more stringent.


Change is coming


So whatever option Ministers eventually choose (the consultation closed in December, and the government is currently considering the responses it received), change is coming.


There has been some speculation about what the high-tech, accessible buildings of the future might look like. Companies already provide voice-activated doors and cupboards, kitchens and bathrooms with appliances that rise and fall to suit the user, and a whole range of other futuristic accessibility tech.


But while I think the accessible buildings of the future are likely to include these sorts of advances, on the whole I think we’ll just see a much broader application of the basics – ramps, handrails, anti-slip flooring, and other products that have been in use throughout the public and


private sector for decades.


Many manufacturers are continuing to see very healthy demand from specifiers for handrails designed to meet the requirements of Part M.


For example, products are available that conform to DDA requirements for a smooth continuous handrail by using 42.4 mm galvanised tube, and include a warm to the touch hand railing and component system that meets Part M. High quality PVC coating ensures minimum heat conductivity away from the hand, and removes the need for thermal painting or powder coating. With a mix of high-tech innovation, and quality traditional accessibility products like these, we can make Britain’s built environment safe and welcoming for everyone to enjoy.


For the full details of current Part M standards and the proposals for enhancing them, please see the ‘Raising accessibility standards for new homes’ consultation paper, available on the Government’s website www.gov.uk


Paul Smith is head of marketing at F.H. Brundle


WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


ADF MAY 2021


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