The campaign for more Changing Places toilets has been given a big boost with two exciting developments from the Government.
This Changing Places Awareness Day 2020 we are delighted to announce that changes will be made to legislation to make Changing Places toilets mandatory in new, large public buildings in England.
On top of that, more funding will be made available to install Changing Places toilets at 37 motorway services stations.
The announcement was made by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Transport.
What does this mean?
A major change to guidance for building rules in England will require thousands of large (12m2) and well-equipped accessible toilet facilities to be designed and built into new public buildings, from next year.
The announcement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government states:
Compulsory inclusion of Changing Places Toilets in new public building to help 250,000 people
Shopping centres, sports stadiums and arts venues among buildings listed
Changes will help ensure everyone in society benefits from lockdown easing
The government estimates 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:
"For too long, the lack of Changing Places toilets has meant that severely disabled people have faced severe difficulties in attending public places.
Changing Places toilets give disabled people and their carers the space and equipment they need to have the confidence to leave their homes and go out.
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."
The government remains steadfast on a commitment made by the Chancellor in the Budget on 11 March 2020 that the changes are expected to take effect early next year.
The Department for Transport, in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK, has also announced £1.27m 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.
Transport Accessibility Minister Chris Heaton said:
"It is hard to overstate the importance of something as simple as an accessible area for the over 250,000 people nationwide who have a severe disability.
I want everyone to have the confidence to travel by any means so it is incredibly important for us to work with Muscular Dystrophy UK to provide Changing Places facilities at the majority of service stations in England."
What do we think?
We know there is still work to do in our campaign for more Changing Places toilets. But news like this shows we have come such a long way.
This Changing Places Awareness Day, we want to recognise everything that has been achieved in the past 12 months. This includes:
Continuing our partnership with Tesco to install more facilities at stores across the UK
Working with various Government departments, including MHCLG, DfT and the Department of Health and Social Care, to make Changing Places toilets more available
Learning that the Government committed £30m for Changing Places toilets in existing buildings in England in its Budget