New Building Rules To Improve Accessibility For People With Disabilities

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The Ministry of Equality, in conjunction with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning, has announced the Approved Document R of the Building Rules. It addresses all aspects of building and is aimed at improving accessibility to buildings and structures. This approved document is similar to the Part M document in the UK.

The Department of Town Planning and Building Control and the Department of Equality has worked in conjunction with the Gibraltar Law Offices and to ensure that this approved document be introduced in Gibraltar.

Most building works in Gibraltar require Building Rules approval. Building Regulations are separated into different categories addressing all aspects of a building and are aimed at improving the environment in which we live. These particular guidelines are aimed at making buildings more inclusive of people with disabilities.

These new Rules will apply to all new building works, future building applications and any modifications that require building or planning approval. The Government claims that the implementation of these requirements will benefit society as a whole.

By following the guidance on this Approved Document, architects and design professionals will be assisted in achieving compliance and greater inclusion and accessibility in their designs.

Notwithstanding, the Government has been subjecting all Government projects and refurbishments to the regulations’ principals during the past couple of years.

Indeed, since 2015 the Department of Equality has organised for specific training on accessibility to buildings for both the public and private sectors. Training has been delivered by About Access (UK) and in all, over 200 individuals have participated.

All key Government professionals and technical staff have undergone this training to ensure that they are conversant with the new rules so as to implement them and also importantly, enforce them.

It has also been delivered to the private sector several times as part of the Equality Means Business series of seminars.

Even though Approved Document R has been commenced today, Building Control has been applying its regulations to all Government Projects during the last few years.

The Ministry for Equality and Building Control section of the Department of Town Planning and Building Control has prepared a booklet to provide information on the Regulations. Printed or electronic copies may be obtained from either department.

Minister for Equality, Samantha Sacramento, said: “These regulations will make an impact on future designs and in the process make Gibraltar more accessible. This is the culmination of the training on making premises accessible during the past few years to Government technical grades and heads of department and has allowed everyone con concerned to be ready for the implementation of the Approved Document R Regulations.

“This has also been an example of this Government’s multi-departmental approach in delivering regulations that are needed in Gibraltar for the promotion of accessibility as various departments have had to work together to achieve this. I am particularly grateful to present and past members of the Department of Town Planning and Building Control who have shown a very modern and positive approach since the beginning and have worked closely with my Ministry.”

The Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Paul Balban, said: “In modernising the Building Rules in Gibraltar by the introduction of the Approved Document R, we are setting a new standard of what is expected in new buildings and is a further important step in achieving a more inclusive Gibraltar improving the environment for people with disabilities.”