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The Approved Document Part M (Access To and Use of Buildings), 2015 edition was published in March 2015, coming into effect 1 October. This now incorporates optional tiered requirements, with higher tiers set through planning policy.

We welcome the new regulated approach to improved accessibility standards, but concerns remain about the implementation of the new standards with variations in requirements. Our Table presents a comparison of the new Part M against existing standards.

Section 1 is mandatory for all new dwellings. Planning authorities may only set policies for the optional higher tiers following a clearly evidenced need and viability appraisal, in line with the National Planning Policy Framework and Ministerial Statement (March 25, 2015). There are some concerns that this narrow viability test may reduce the supply of accessible homes at a time of growing demand.

Section 1 includes for some Lifetime Homes criteria. Section 2 fully meets the Lifetime Homes Standards (2010). Section 3 meets the London Wheelchair Housing Standards (2007).

The addition of the Lifetime Homes criteria within the Building Regulations will be a welcome inclusion for many people looking to buy a lifelong home, however, as enhanced Sections 2 & 3 are optional there is a concern that the application of higher standards would be inconsistently applied.