“Changing Places” toilets for disabled may become requirement

A consultation is due to be launched this year on proposals to include Changing Places toilets in all new large public buildings including shopping centres, stadiums and theme parks. Current building regulations recommend these toilets but do not compel developers to include them.

Changing Places toilets are designed for the severely disabled and are larger than standard disabled toilets and include equipment such as changing benches and hoists. They are said to make a huge difference to disabled people and their carers and allow them to visit public spaces. Each Changing Places toilet costs between £27,000 and £35,000 to install.

Ministers including the Minister for Care Caroline Dinage have pointed out that there are currently very few Changing Places toilets available including just 30-40 in NHS hospitals and that the government has committed to increasing this to at least 100.

Overall there are around 1200 such toilets currently, but the government has stated it would like to improve facilities in addition to the £2m announced for the NHS toilets and a further £70,000 for an online map of accessible facilities.

The consultation will look into toilet provision and will seek views on the scope of the buildings that should be covered and the specifications that will be required under buildings regulations. It is a statutory requirement to consult on any changes to building regulations.

The consultation will run throughout 2019 and is supported by Muscular Dystrophy UK Chief Executive Catherine Woodhead who also chairs the Changing Places Consortium. She has stated that these toilets improve quality of life and tackles the exclusion many disabled people have on a daily basis. She points out that campaigners have long pushed for changes to legislation to make these toilets mandatory for public spaces and is committed to working with the government to bring about these changes.

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