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ACCESSIBLE HOUSING GUIDELINES

The London Borough of Waltham Forest has produced its own guidelines for accessible housing, developed in co-operation with the borough's access group, and working to standards higher than those recommended in the Building Regulations. It states in its introduction: 'The council supports national initiatives to improve access, such as Part M of the Building regulations. However, the council considers that the scope and standards of these regulations do not go far enough to meet the needs of the community. Therefore, the council has formulated its own guidelines, as promised under 6.52 in the Unitary Development Plan, to amplify the Supplementary Planning Guidance on accessible housing.'

It divides its requirements into three categories: an all-housing standard, a mobility standard and a wheelchair standard.

The all-housing standard requires:

external environment designed to Access for All standards

all ground-floor or lift-accessible entrances designed with level access or ramped to Access Guideline standards

all entrance doors 900mm clear opening width.

The mobility standard applies to ground-floor or lift-accessible flats, plus 30 per cent across the range of types in developments of 20 or more units. In addition to the requirements for all housing, it stipulates:

900mm clear opening door

300mm clearance on leading edge of entrance door

wc on entrance storey

1.5m-diameter turning circle in hall

internal doors 875mm clear opening width

corridors 1200mm minimum clear width

straight-flight stairs 800mm minimum width with 900mm-long landings top and bottom.

The wheelchair standard applies to ten per cent across the range of types in new or refurbished developments of 20 or more units, and to adaptations for wheelchair users. It demands, in addition to the requirements for all housing:

all doors 900 mm clear opening width

all doors clearance of 300mm on leading edge both sides

all doors clearance of 100mm on hinge side

wheelchair storage unobstructed 1.5m x 1m

1.5m-diameter unobstructed turning circles in all areas

lift if more than one storey

walls and ceilings suitable for rails and hoists

low sill heights in living areas

accessible wc on all storeys

The guide sets out in some detail what these requirements mean, and supplementing words with explanatory drawings.

Copies of the guide are obtainable from the Access Officer, Chingford Municipal Offices, The Ridgeway, London E4 6PS, tel 0181 527 5544.

HOT NEWS ABOUT FIRE

The Building Research Establishment has produced a new series of publications - bre Fire Notes. These aim to improve the dissemination of bre's fire- research activity by filling the gap between full-scale reports and journal articles. The series will, says bre, grow into a comprehensive library of important fire-related material and will be of interest to all fire researchers in the uk and overseas. Six titles have been published so far, and are available for £90 post free. The past six plus the next six, on publication, cost £150. The next six alone cost £80. Contact crc, 151 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4QX, tel 0171 505 6622.

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