Aesthetics and Accessibility Should and Can Go Hand in Hand for Building Operators, States Bureau Veritas


With the onus on accessibility in UK buildings continuing to grow, Bureau Veritas is reminding building operators of the importance of ensuring Part M compliance – while stating it doesn’t have to be to the detriment of design.

Updated in 2015, Part M of the Building Regulations, Access to and Use of Buildings, sets out the legal minimum requirements for works to buildings or new buildings. Although having been in place for many years, however, it has remained an area overlooked by many building operators due to a number of reasons, including; the narrow scope of regulation, the costs imparted by the regulations, and the impact that accessibility requirements can have on aesthetics.

That is, until now. With more than 10million disabled people in Britain, and an aging population - recent research estimates 1.6 million of over 65 year olds will require substantial healthcare requirements by 2025 - the specifications in Part M have become heightened in importance, resulting in building operators increasing the focus on meeting regulations.

This makes fully understanding Part M requirements more important, states Bureau Veritas, as specialist knowledge can ensure the transition to accessibility is seamless, whereas a lack of understanding can lead to post-construction problems, requiring additional time and effort in rectifying work to ensure compliance.

Andy Lowe, director of building control at Bureau Veritas, comments: “Inherently, Part M can present many challenges for the modern developer or building operator. One of the biggest is in terms of balancing the ability for compliance requirements, such as grab-rails or partitions, with the interior design. However, it’s important to note that all-inclusive, accessible design has evolved dramatically in recent years to become more design-led and by building it into the initial stages it can blend seamlessly within the overall concept.”

Another challenge is, the fact that the application of Part M across the UK can differ across regions, which can lead to confusion for operators unsure of which requirements they should be working to in which area. London, for example, requires 90% of new housing to meet M4(2), while other areas may have the figure as low as 10%.

For Bureau Veritas, the recommendation is an industry shift towards early engagement with a building control specialist to ensure Part M, and all other compliance requirements, are countered for in the early stages of construction to ensure full compliance.

Andy adds: “It is understandable that compliance with Part M, in being so complex and interchangeable dependent on circumstances, can be a minefield for building operators which is why we’d always advocate calling in specialist help from the offset.

“The reality, after all, is that the need for greater accessibility is only going to grow and by meeting Part M requirements now, operators can ensure that premises become fit for purpose for a ‘lifetime’ – while maintaining their aesthetical integrity.”

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