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Document M Regulations

What is Document M?

Document M is a building regulation relating to the access and use of buildings. It is split into two volumes. Volume 1 applies to dwellings, volume 2 refers to any building other than dwellings.

Document M, Volume 2 is divided by three main requirements:

M1: Reasonable provision must be made for people to gain access to; and use the building and its facilities. M2: Building extensions must have suitable independent access, where reasonably practicable.

M3: Accessible sanitary conveniences should be provided in buildings with any kind of sanitary convenience.

Section 0: General Guidance

Requirements M1, M2 and M3 apply if:

o A non-domestic building is newly erected.

o An existing non-domestic building is extended or undergoes a material alteration.

o An existing building or part of undergoes a material change of use to a hotel or boarding house, institution, public building or shop.

Where an alteration of a non-domestic building is a material alteration, the work itself must comply, where relevant, with requirement M1. This means that any alterations to entry points or stairways must comply with M1.

Section 1: Access to buildings

Access to buildings relates to any means of approaching a building, including car parking & footpaths as part of the building boundary.

Within the project boundary, there should be access to disabled parking within clear view of the building entrance, and minimal changes in levels to any footpaths.

Consideration should be made to minimise the need for stepped access, however where this is unavoidable, ramped access should also be provided. Ramped access does not work best for everyone, therefore it is important to provide both stairs & ramps with railings to both sides & visual contrast to any nosing’s and railings and adequate slip resistance.

Section 2: Access into buildings

Access into buildings refers to all thresholds providing entry into the building. If an additional accessible entrance is needed, this should be clearly signposted for easy access. The most accessible door types are automatic sliding doors, as door swings and self-closing devices can cause a range of limitations. Revolving doors are NOT considered accessible.

Any door handles & frames should provide visual contrast. In addition, glazed doors should be easily recognisable against any partition for easy access. The building threshold should be as level as possible, and provide barrier matting for weather protection, especially for wheelchair users.

If any entrance lobby is used, they should be large enough for a wheelchair or pram to move clear of one door before opening the second.

Section 3: Horizontal & Vertical Circulation

Entrance halls & reception areas must be far away enough from the principle entrance to avoid obstructions or external noise, but still be in clear view. Any reception desk or counter should be easy to access with accommodations for seated & standing visitors, ideally including a knee recess for wheelchairs.

Visual contrast should be provided to door frames & opening furniture, as well as between a floor, wall and ceiling. This allows an individual with a visual impairment gain access & determine the spaces they’re in. Doors should have a clear opening and corridors should have an unobstructed width of 1200mm. Any corridors less than 1800mm wide should have regular passing places.

A passenger lift is the most suitable means of vertical access. A platform lift is suitable if a passenger lift is not possible. All means should provide sufficient lighting, and should have controls reachable to anyone. Signage for lifts should be visible from the building entrance. Lifts should not replace stairs, but go alongside them.

Section 4: Facilities

Where permanent or removable seating is provided within a design allowance must be made for disabled people to have a choice of seating location, with allowance for wheelchairs areas, and areas for assistance dogs. Consideration should be given to sight lines, lighting and wall designs so as not to impact the ability of people receiving information from a sign language interpreter or lip reading.

Refreshment facilities such as restaurants and bars, should be designed for everyone. All public areas should be accessible to all, therefore all changes to floor level should be accessible, serving counters should have a permanent accessible counter at 850mm high. Accessible toilet facilities must be provided. Shared facilities such as tea points should have a 850mm worktop with a clear space beneath for wheelchairs.

Sleeping accommodation must have rooms to accommodate wheelchair users (1 in every 20). These rooms should be large enough for access to all areas via wheelchair, and all facilities such as wardrobes, coffee & tea making, and all switches much be at an accessible height. En-suite facilities are preferable & a good number should be shower rooms.

Section 5: Sanitary Accommodation

Sanitary accommodation generally should include taps that are controlled automatically or can be used with a closed fist. Fire alarms and emergency assistance alarms should emit a visual and audible signal that are distinguishable from one another. Sanitary fittings, walls and floors should all contrast visually.

Toilet accommodation must be suitable for all building users. Where there is space for only one toilet in a building, it must be wheelchair accessible, but of a greater width to allow for an extra standing height wash basin. One accessible toilet should be provided in a location within a building where sanitary facilities are provided. At least one WC within a single sex toilet should be ambulant, and where there are four or more WC’s, one should be enlarged for those who need extra space.

Wheelchair accessible unisex toilets must be located on accessible routes, including one near the main entrance. Doors are preferably outward opening. All accessible WC’s must have an emergency assistance alarm with an easy to identify pull cord. Ambulant toilets should have support rails, and in larger facilities, should be big enough to accommodate parents with children, or those with luggage. Standard WC’s require a a minimum 450mm turning circle.

Wheelchair accessible changing and shower facilities require a choice of left and right hand transfer where more than one facility is provided. They should have wall mounted support rails & anti- slip seats. In sports facilities, self-contained shower and changing facilities should be available in addition to communal. Shower facilities should have a level, anti-slip floor finish. They should include a shower curtain operable from the seated position, a shelf for toiletries and an emergency pull cord.

What happens if we don’t comply?

If your local council building control team judges the work not up to standard it has powers to order you to pull down or alter the work. Serious and persistent cases of failure to meet building standards can result in legal action and a fine.

Discuss Doc M requirements with our team today

Call us on 01223 952992 or email

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