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Bog standard provision is just not good enough

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Bravo, Selwyn Goldsmith! His article (AJ 15.3.01) was the first I have seen in a building journal acknowledging the under-provision of women's WCs.

However, what Goldsmith does not realise is that the law requires fewer sanitary conveniences for women than men.

The minimum number of WCs in a building is generally dictated by the Building Regulations and by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.

Both of these state that 'adequate' WCs should be provided, and generally meeting the standards quoted in BS 6465-1, 'Code of practice for scale of provision, selection and installation of sanitary appliances', will comply.

It is this British Standard that is at fault.How the original compilers decided that women do not need as many WCs as men is hard to understand. In a workplace, it says 50 women should have three WCs, and 50 men three WCs and two urinals.

The situation is particularly horrendous in theatres, where it is permissible to have four WCs per 100 women.At a recent concert at the London Arena, women gatecrashed the men's WCs because the queues were so long at the ladies.

Research needs to be carried out as to what is 'reasonable' provision, as the standard is obviously incorrect. It should be amended as a matter of urgency.

Michelle Barkley, Croydon

Austin Williams writes:

This is slightly disingenuous in that BS 6465: Pt 1:1994 gives an optional requirement for staff WCs in Table 4. Either male and female are designated as having equal WC provision, or where there is over 31 staff, a reduced male WC provision can be supplemented by urinals.

Admittedly the gist of what you say is right in the workplace, although if you compare public entertainment facilities, for example, for every 250 males there is a requirement for one WCand four urinals, whereas 250 females require eight WCs.

The point Goldsmith is making is that even though these are statutory minimum standards, adherence to the bare minimum is often what exacerbates unwitting prejudice in the functionality of spatial design.

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