Changing Places Toilets must be provided in new public buildings
Finance Minister Conor Murphy with disability campaigners Christine McClements and Michaela Hollywood at the Changing Places facility at Stormont Estate.
Finance Minister, Conor Murphy today announced changes to building regulations, which will make provisions requiring Changing Places toilets in certain buildings commonly used by the public.
Changing Places Toilet facilities meet the needs of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities as well as people with other physical disabilities such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.
This new requirement for Changing Places Toilets will be in addition to the current requirements for standard accessible toilets and will benefit around 7,000 people here.
The new statutory guidance will come into effect on 30 June 2022.
Finance Minister Conor Murphy said:
“This is a very important step for inclusion and equality. Increasing the number of Changing Places Toilets will help make our public places more accessible and will make a huge difference to the lives of disabled people, their carers and their families.
“By enhancing this provision, it will bring us closer to having the right facilities available in buildings where people who need to can access them. It will make it easier for disabled people and their families to enjoy activities that many take for granted, whether going shopping or attending a concert.
“There was overwhelming support to the recent consultation with the majority of organisations and individuals agreeing with the Department’s proposals.”
The statutory guidance will apply in certain types of new buildings or in existing buildings where there is a material change of use.
The Department plans to carry out research in the next mandate on further extending the provision of Changing Places Toilets. This would include requiring Changing Places Toilets in specified buildings where building work is to be carried out to extend or alter an existing building.
Michaela Hollywood, Changing Places user and campaigner said this is a landmark day for inclusion:
“The reality of this guidance means that thousands of people will be able to go to the cinema without the worry of how they are going to go to the toilet. Having Changing Places Toilets in more buildings will reduce isolation, improve mental health and esteem in disabled people who need these facilities.
“Disabled people will no longer need to choose between fun and going to the toilet - one of our most basic needs as a society. It will also mean for many disabled people that they will no longer be forced into surgical options to resolve their toileting needs.
“The impact of the new guidance will have far reaching positive impacts on our economy and I’m delighted it’s coming into effect.”
Equality campaigner, Christine McClements, welcomed the new regulations and said:
"After years of campaigning I am absolutely thrilled with today's announcement for mandatory provision of changing places toilets. This change to our Building Regulations will not only bring increased safe, dignified and convenient toileting opportunities for disabled people and many older people too, but it will also bring new opportunities for inclusion and participation right across society.
“My disabled daughter Lilia spent many years having to be changed on an unhygienic public toilet floor. I hope that a new generation of disabled children will now never have to face that indignity. Today is a very good and significant day for the advancement of the equality and rights of disabled people here."