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Parliamentary call for chang(ing places)

  • Robin Tuffley

Campaigners are celebrating now as their drive to open the doors of thousands of venues moves a step closer, getting Parliamentary support.

A decade ago, the campaign for Changing Places assisted accessible toilets was launched. Yet without these toilets, potentially millions of people cannot undertake a basic human right- go to the toilet- when away from home. 

The Women & Equality Parliament Select Committee has just published its findings following a major call for evidence into how current Regulations fail to deliver access for disabled people. It specifically recommends that the current Building Regulations Approved Document M, which affects accessibility in buildings and was last updated in 2013, be revised to require the provision of a Changing Places toilet in all large building developments, unless it can be demonstrated that adequate provision is already available locally. 

The Committee goes further in that it is recommending definition of a ‘large’ development, proposing as a minimum the requirement will apply to large shopping centres. 

Currently, Changing Places are only desirable in such buildings. There is no duty, obligation to provide them. 

Changing Places are needed because the current ‘Document M’ wheelchair-accessible toilets cannot be used by a large percentage of people with impairments. People who need extra space. People who need help. People who need lifting. Or people who need changing.

Changing Places, and their smaller Space to Change, toilets address those needs, delivering a peninsular WC, at least 7.5m2 (ideally 12m2), a hoist and adult-sized changing bench. Without Changing Places or Space to Change, potentially up to 14million people are faced with stark choices:

  • don’t drink anything so they don’t need the toilet
  • cut a visit short because they need the toilet
  • sit in a soiled nappy because there’s nowhere suitable for them to be changed
  • carry around a full stoma because there’s nowhere suitable to deal with it
  • don’t go to that venue
  • don’t go out at all 

And those issues don’t just affect the person with the impairment. It impacts on their family, friends, carer(s). So it affects at least twice as many people as the actual person who needs the Changing Places.

But this latest development is ‘only’ a Parliamentary report. Let us hope that it at least increases pressure for legislative change.

So if you, or someone you care for, about, needs the extra facilities provided by a Changing Places, add your voice to the growing crowd, lobby your MP, and join the campaigners to press for Chang(ingPlaces). 

There is a raft of support material available for free: please click here.

If you’re a building designer, or anyone involved in the process of delivering a building used by the public, please take note, and get ahead of the competition by incorporating a Changing Places.

There is a raft of support material, including design advice and considerations, CAD blocks, white papers available here.


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