More than 250,000 severely disabled people will have greater access to public places after the government moved to make Changing Places toilets compulsory in new buildings.
Changing Places toilets are larger accessible toilets for severely disabled people, with equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches and space for carers.
A major change to guidance for building rules in England will require thousands of large (12 square metres) and well-equipped accessible toilet facilities to be designed and built into new public buildings from next year.
The government estimates that it will add the toilets to more than 150 new buildings a year. A £30 million fund to install Changing Places in existing buildings was also announced in the Budget.
Shopping centres, supermarkets, cinemas, stadia and arts venues are just some of the buildings that will be required to include at least one Changing Places toilet.
Building accessibility minister Lord Greenhalgh said: “We are making the installation of these toilets compulsory in hundreds of new public buildings in years to come to help bring major, life-enhancing freedoms to the more than 250,000 people who need them.”
Rob Burley, director of campaigns, care and support at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “Having access to these much-needed facilities increases independence and improves quality of life. These changes will make it easier for disabled people and their families to enjoy activities that many take for granted, whether that’s a day’s shopping or attending a concert.”
There are more than 1,400 Changing Places toilets in the UK – up from just 140 in 2007 – but more are needed to support more than a quarter of a million people who need them in the UK.
The Department for Transport, in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK, has also announced £1.27 million to install 37 more changing places at service stations across England. These new facilities will give people with complex needs and their carers the confidence and freedom to make more journeys by road as coronavirus restrictions ease.
With this latest round of funding, 87 of England’s 118 service stations will be set to have a fully accessible Changing Places toilet in the early 2020s. This investment is part of the government’s Inclusive Transport Strategy, which aims to provide equal access to transport by 2030, with assistance if physical infrastructure remains a barrier.