New, or majorly refurbished, large buildings used by the public must have Changing Places toilets for severely disabled people, under government proposals announced over the weekend.

The proposals are expected to add the toilets to more than 150 new buildings a year, including shopping centres, supermarkets, cinemas, stadiums and arts venues.

Changing Places toilets are larger accessible toilets for severely disabled people, with equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches and enough space for carers.

There are over 1,300 Changing Places toilets in the UK, up from just 140 in 2007, but more are needed to support the more than a quarter of a million people who need them in the UK.

Without access to these toilets, it can be challenging for people to enjoy daily activities.


Local Government Minister, Rishi Sunak MP, said “Everyone should have the freedom to enjoy days out in dignity and comfort. For severely disabled people, this is made very difficult because there are not enough Changing Places toilets.

“We’ve made some progress, but I’m determined to increase the number of these life-enhancing facilities, so people are given the dignity they deserve.

“I’m pleased so many people will be helped by this major change.”

Catherine Woodhead, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, which co-chairs the Changing Places Consortium, said “People living with disabilities go to work, visit shops and enjoy days out with friends just like everyone else. But a lack of Changing Places toilets make these seemingly simple tasks a challenge. Too often, we hear stories of people not leaving their homes, having to be changed on dirty toilet floors or even having surgery because there are not enough facilities.

“The government’s consultation on making Changing Places toilets mandatory in new, large public buildings is hugely encouraging. Along with our fantastic campaigners, we have long pushed for changes to legislation, and now we are one step closer to that being reality.

What is a Changing Places toilet? Click here to find out

“This is wonderful news for everyone who needs Changing Places toilets. We look forward to working with the government and campaigners in making society more inclusive.”

In the absence of Changing Places facilities, disabled people and/or carers face:

  • limiting what they drink to avoid needing the toilet when they are out – risking dehydration and urinary tract infections
  • sitting in soiled clothing or dirty nappies until a suitable toilet is found or they return home
  • having to change a loved one on a dirty toilet floor
  • manually lifting someone out of their wheelchair – risking safety
  • reducing their time out of the house – restricting their social lives

The government has launched a 10-week consultation, which proposes the required size and shape of Changing Places toilets as well as the range of equipment that must be included.

It also proposes thresholds at which the facilities will be made mandatory in new or largely refurbished buildings of different types, such as overall floor space or attendance capacity.

Last month, the Department for Transport, in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK), launched a £2 million fund for Changing Places to be installed in existing motorway service stations, which is now open for applications.

The Department of Health and Social Care will also soon launch a £2 million fund for NHS Trusts to install new Changing Places in over 100 hospitals across England.

Examples of how Changing Places can help

Lauren West, from London, needs Changing Places toilets. She is MDUK’s Trailblazers Manager.

Lauren said “As a Changing Places user, I’m delighted to see the potential change to building regulations to include these life-changing facilities. Currently provision is very hit and miss with some areas having none at all. This means people like myself can’t visit these places or can’t stay as long as they’d like. This consultation is an encouraging step towards making the right facilities accessible to those that need them.

“With Changing Places, disabled people have the ability to travel, to work, to enjoy leisure activities and to spend valuable time with family and friends. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it also makes business sense. By providing these toilets, you’re giving disabled people the opportunity to visit your venue, to spend money and to spread the word about its inclusivity.”

Fiona Anderson, 30, from Bolton, is part of MDUK’s Trailblazers network, and needs Changing Places toilets.

Fiona said “A lack of Changing Places toilets has led to me deciding to have surgery, which will give me more freedom to go to the toilet. If these facilities were in every large public building, I would no longer have to endure the pain of postponing going to the toilet all day and the ever present dark cloud of sepsis occurring would be lifted. Ultimately, I also wouldn’t need to have a catheter fitted, which would mean the world to me. I’m not incontinent – I simply can’t transfer to a toilet without a hoist.

“Changing Places toilets are a much-needed lifeline. But with so few of them available, people like me are forced to sacrifice our dignity and independence.”

New ‘best practice’ guidelines have been published that, for the first time, specifically address disabled student accommodation.

Simultaneously, Britain’s leading provider of disabled toileting solutions, Closomat, is announcing new developments that enable providers to comply, stylishly, with a unique package from specification, through fitting to future service & maintenance.

The options help enable providers to meet the growing number of disabled students, which now represents almost 10% of the student population in the UK!

BS8300:2018 Design of an accessible and inclusive built environment extends the remit of compliance covered under its predecessor BS8300:2009. The latest version is not specific to new build projects, and applies to all building types that require permanent sleeping accommodation for disabled people.

It also, for the first time, incorporates a specific set of criteria for student accommodation bedrooms. Under the new guidelines, up to 4% of bedrooms should be wheelchair accessible, up to 1% of rooms should include a fixed track hoist system, and up to 5% should be easily adaptable for independent wheelchair use. If only one accessible bedroom is provided, it should include an accessible shower room, with the preferred solution being a level access shower with shower seat if required, and include a WC. The adaptable rooms should have the space and design features to allow for addition of grab rails, shower seats, with ceiling height to allow for a track hoist (2.4m).

Closomat offers a range of contemporary ceiling track hoist systems that can be tailored to individual needs, enabling movement and transfer within a room, through to an en-suite, or beyond.

In the bathroom, it can provide a stylish wall track system, that integrates with a range of fixtures such as grab rails, height-adjustable or fixed washbasins, shower seats, enabling quick and easy adaptation to individual occupant needs.

Its range of wash & dry toilets take accessibility into higher realms of inclusion and intimate hygiene, with contemporary styled floor- standing, wall-mounted and height adjustable variants. Wash and dry toilets have the added benefit of satisfying cultural and religious considerations, regardless of the enhanced hygiene they provide against conventional wiping.

“Accessibility is a growing consideration in building design,” explains Robin Tuffley, Closomat marketing manager. “Disabled student numbers have increased by 56% in less than a decade, so it’s a sector that accommodation providers need to consider, and address.

“As the new British Standard points out, because such accommodation is booked or reserved in advance, there is greater scope for it to be adapted correctly, as required, to suit an individual student. It goes so far as to advise that in effect a ‘show flat/ bedroom’ should be provided on build completion so people can asses how their requirement may be met!”

Closomat’s website is the ‘go to’ resource to help take the first steps towards efficient accessibility provision, including design guidance, white papers, CAD blocks, NBS specification clauses and case studies.

The information represents the combined wealth of knowledge amassed from over 55 years’ helping disabled people optimise their dignity and independence in the bathroom, at home and away.

More communities across England will be able to get free access to expert advice and guidance to help make their neighbourhood vision a reality, Housing Minister Dominic Raab has announced.

A £23 million fund – being delivered by Locality and Groundwork – will help local groups to develop a neighbourhood plan. These plans give local people a say in the development of their area, including where homes, schools and businesses should be built, how they should look and what infrastructure is needed to support them.

Community groups will be able to access a range of free help including financial support and latest planning expertise from trained professionals, to guide them through the process of preparing a neighbourhood plan.

Housing and Planning Minister Dominic Raab said “Neighbourhood plans are a powerful tool to help communities shape their local area, making sure the right homes are built in the right places.

“It’s vital that communities have the right support and advice available to help deliver a plan that meets their own ambitious aspirations. That’s why I’m making £23 million available that will help more groups to do this.”

Over 2,300 communities across England have started the process of neighbourhood planning, with 530 plans approved in local referendums.

Previous government support has helped around 7 out of 10 of these communities progress their plans, with 365 neighbourhood plans finalised using support provided by the government.

The maximum grant available has also been increased by £2,000 to £17,000, helping communities to access more resources to develop a plan for their area.

Leading window and door designer, manufacturer and installer CMS Window Systems has completed work on a pioneering housing project in the north-east of England, which offers older and vulnerable residents the opportunity to retain their independence while providing them with the support services they require.

With Northumberland’s population ageing faster than that of England as a whole, the 58 modern apartments in Weavers Court development in Alnwick represent a sea-change in accommodation for older residents, offering improvements in lifestyle and support whilst not compromising on the quality of their living space. Led by housing company Isos, the £5m scheme enables those with chronic and other health conditions to live in the community, preventing admissions to residential care whilst giving residents and their families the reassurance that help is always on hand.

Brought to the project by main contractors Galliford Try, CMS was contracted to manufacture and install casement windows, as well as single and double doors for the development. A highly energy efficient specification was required to maximise the cost-saving benefits of the installation for residents. Additionally, to ensure that Weavers Court would be a desirable and attractive place to live, it was important that the aesthetics of the works package would complement the rest of the building design.

CMS met the brief with high-performance units to help create an energy-efficient building envelope, eliminating draughts and reducing heat transfer to create a comfortable environment and ease residents’ heating costs. Smart grey PVCu casement frames from Sheerframe’s 8000 range ensured a sleek, modern appearance, with the layout of glass panels in the building envelope helping to create a light, bright interior for the building and ensure fantastic views towards the south of Alnwick.

Ensuring a secure building envelope was also crucial to the project: besides the primary benefits conferred by good security, an overarching priority for Weavers Court was to create homes in which residents could feel safe, protected, and in charge of their own space. CMS responded to this need by using products accredited by Secured by Design, a police-led initiative promoting superior safety specifications for building materials, to exceed security standards and ensure residents’ peace of mind.

CMS’s work on the Weavers Court project was completed in June 2016, with the development opening officially in mid-2016. CMS’s Managing Director, Andy Kerr, welcomed its completion: “Weavers Court represents a really unique opportunity for older and vulnerable residents of Alnwick, and demonstrates that the needs of this sector of society are being increasingly well catered-for.

“The pairing of high-quality housing and on-hand care facilities is an ideal solution to helping residents maintain their independence for longer while ensuring they are enjoying the quality of life they deserve. The support that the Extra Care scheme offers to tenants is invaluable, and it was a real pleasure for CMS to be able to contribute to its creation.”

Mark Massey, senior partner at idpartnership, the architect of Weavers’ Court, said: “The design of Weavers Court reflects best practice in inclusive design and design for well-being. The scheme will be a “step-change” in housing for the elderly, enabling them to become the focus of the community, offering a hotel-like environment in which an active and positive old age can be enjoyed.”

For more information about the project, please visit