DAC 'Practicability'

 

 


The Issue

A Disabled Access Certificate (DAC) is required when any change of use or material alteration works are being carried out to a building.

In an existing Protected Structure, getting a DAC can be particularly difficult as the designs required can be detrimental to the historical elements of the building.

For example, in one case we were involved with, a building control officer required a lift to the 2nd floor of a protected Georgian building. This would have required substantial alterations to the historic building fabric and was simply not possible. Therefore the building could not be made accessible for the building control department.

 

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The Technical Guidance Document Part M (TGDM) 2000 sets out the minimum requirements needed in order to be accessible at presant.  However there is no leeway for existing protected structures which are not compliant to achieve a DAC which makes it impractical.

The New TGD M 2010 'Practicable'

The new TGDM 2010 which was published on the 5 November 2010 will come into force on the 1 January 2012. Section 0.7 introduces the idea of ‘practicability’. This provides a non exhaustive list of circumstances where Part M may not be practical. The list includes:

  • Works which would have a significant adverse effect on the historical significance of a building, e.g. a Protected Structure.
  • Works which would require moving or altering a load bearing member which is an essential part of the structural stability
  • Where other physical or site constraints would limit modification of an existing structure
  • Where works are required to part of a building which is not under the same control/ownership, e.g. a leaseholder.
  • Where specific alternative guidance to section 1 is provided in section 2 and an existing feature or facility satisfies that guidance.
  • Where a specific planning condition prohibits modification of an identified existing feature.

The addition of this guidance is progressive and makes implementation of the guidance more practical to existing buildings. If the building is unable to be made accessible for any of the reasons above or it is impractical in another way, alternative approaches based on the principals contained in Part M 2010 can be considered.

It will still be up to the opinion of the building control officer of the relevent Local Authority regarding whether or not the works were required to meet Part M 2010 are practicable. But the introduction of this guidance provides the applicant with the possibility of having a protected structure which is as accessible as possible, without affecting the historic elements of the building, witgh the issuance of a valid DAC which was almost impossible before without affecting the historic structures.

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Published January 2011

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