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Guidelines do not preclude innovation

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I feel that I must respond to the anonymous letter 'Don't muck about with Part M spec' (Letters, aj 6/13.8.98).

What allegedly starts off as being a commentary on the 'supposedly accessible cubicle' relating to Part M, reverts to criticisms which aren't even covered by the aforementioned document.

I suppose it is worthwhile stating that Approved Documents are guides to the building regulations, and do not preclude any variation or indeed innovation. Often when designing, particularly in listed buildings, it is necessary to adjust any guidelines to suit the brief as well as the location (Part M3, Section4, Objectives 4.1). When engaged in variations, it is always important to discuss proposals with relevant bodies to ensure that any variations do not compromise the use for which the proposals are intended.

Without wishing to enter into a prolonged debate in your publication, I would like to assure your anonymous critic that an extended period of negotiation was entered into with disabled access groups, to determine whether in this particular application the proposals were acceptable. Indeed, adjustments (such as the relocation of wash hand basin and hand towels) were undertaken to allow seated use from the wc following this consultation.

While I do not dispute the validity of some of the points raised in this letter, it is important to realise that one cannot legislate for every possibility or indeed impossibility. The main objective should be to best meet the requirements of the client given whatever constraints are present. We feel we have been successful on this count.

Furthermore, 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating' and one of our esteemed clients, who is internationally known and, indeed, confined to a wheelchair, has described the facility as 'excellent'.

The actual lesson we feel is that if you use guidelines to your advantage and innovate, anything is possible.



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