Equality and inclusive design

Issue date August 2018


Reference documents

Please note that this list is not exhaustive. Check that the documents quoted are the most up to date versions.

  • The Equality Act 2010
  • OCC Equality Policy 2012-2017
  • Building regulations 2010 approved document M
  • BS8300:2009+A1:2010 Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people
  • Building bulletin 102  (schools only) Designing for disabled children and children with special educational needs
  • Building regulations 2010 approved document B
  • BS 9999:2008 Code of practice for fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings
  • Building bulletin 93 (schools only) Acoustic Design of Schools

All projects, irrespective of whether submission for building regulations approval is required, are expected wherever possible to comply with these documents as a minimum. Any non-compliance must be detailed in the access statement (see below).

Philosophy and approach

Oxfordshire County Council is committed to creating inclusive environments. An inclusive environment is one that can be used by everyone regardless of age, gender and disability. A crucial component in achieving this is to ensure that the design or management of a building or space, where reasonably practicable, meets the needs and requirements of people with disabilities, be they sensory, learning or physical disabilities.

Equality and social inclusion

How Oxfordshire County Council are meeting statutory duties to promote equality, celebrate diversity, improving social inclusion and ensuring fairness for everyone in Oxfordshire can be found at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/equality. The council's Equality Policy 2012-2017 (pdf format, 365Kb) incorporates the nine protected characteristics:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership (but only in respect of eliminating unlawful discrimination)
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race – this includes ethnic or national origins, colour or nationality
  • Religion or belief – this includes lack of belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Equality Act and Approved Document M

Part M sets out minimum requirements to ensure that a broad range of people are able to access and use facilities within buildings.
The Equality Act 2010 brings together and replaces existing equalities legislation including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). The Equality Act requires reasonable adjustments to be made in relation to accessibility. In practice, this means that due regard must be given to any specific needs of likely building users that might be reasonably met.

Compliance with the requirements of Part M does not therefore signify compliance with the much broader obligations and duties set out in the Equality Act.

However, service providers, public authorities carrying out their functions, and associations will continue to benefit from a 10 year exemption, from the date of completion, from the need to make reasonable adjustments to those physical features which comply with the requirements of Part M, in certain circumstances.

This is not a blanket exemption from duties under the Equality Act, and relates only to those specific features built in accordance with AD M (ramps to facilitate access being one such example). As with all other types of building work, service providers will still need to consider the needs of disabled people which are outside the scope of AD M but which would be subject to specific duties under the Equality Act.

Access statements

An access statement must accompany both planning (Planning application design and access statement) and building regulation submissions (Building control access statement).

A building control access statement is required for all schemes even if total compliance with the approved documents can be achieved. In the case of total compliance only section 1 of the statement needs to be completed. The building control access statement should be complementary to and as a development of information provided for planning purposes. Where total compliance with the approved documents in section 1 of the building control access statement cannot be achieved then section 2 must be completed.

Access statements must be discussed with the Oxfordshire County Council Corporate Landlord (OCCCL) at planning/ working drawing stage and their views considered when completing the statements. OCCCL must sign all statements prior to them being submitted. A copy of the access statement must be made available to the Fire and Rescue Service when discussing the fire safety aspects of any scheme (see Fire safety strategy).

When the access statement has been submitted no further non-compliance will be allowed without discussions with the OCCCL.

A copy of the Access Statement must be included in the project Building Manual at handover stage.

Preferred options/ considerations/ additional requirements to approved documents

Ramps and stairways

Handrails to the open sides of external ramps and stairways should be infilled and constructed to minimize the risk by making them difficult to climb.

Part 'M' requires that handrails to ramps 'extend at least 300mm horizontally beyond the top and bottom of a ramped access, or the top and bottom of a flight or flights of steps, while not projecting into an access route. Also that the handrail 'terminates in a way that reduces the risk of clothing being caught'. The overhang should be similarly infilled to the main handrail and should not be just a top rail or a 'D' loop.


Main entrance: Preference is for automatic doors to the main entrance of all buildings that are accessible by the public. Where this is not possible some form of  'call for assistance device' must be provided located at the main entrance together with adequate signage and lighting (e.g. an intercom or illuminated door bell).

Minimum effective clear opening width of doors:

  • Only external doors that are regularly used by the general public need to have a clear opening width of 1000mm through a single leaf door, or one leaf of a double leaf door.
  • Existing door widths must not be reduced to provide a lesser provision.
  • Where the door opening has to be widened to meet the width requirements for existing doors in Part "M", the door should be widened where possible to meet the requirements as for new build.
  • A door and a half or double doors should be specified where an additional clear opening width is required to comply with Part "B" of the Building Regulations.
  • Where two automatic doors are provided giving a clear opening width of say 1600mm Part "M" requires that one leaf should be a minimum of 1000mm wide. In such cases common sense should prevail and the doors should be equal in width with the operational pads or sensors positioned appropriately.
  • For effective clear widths of doors in sports accommodation refer to "Sport England - Access for Disabled People" (Sports wheelchair use generally requires a total clear opening width of 1200mm).

Door seals and closers: only fitted where absolutely necessary.

Project related issues

Discuss with OCCCL:

  • The compartmentation of the building with regard to the location of fire doors within circulation areas.
  • The weight and standard of doors.
  • The use of elecro magnetic releases (EMR's),hold open devices and free swing door closers.
  • The use of automatic doors.
  • Doors to sports halls and gates to external artificial sports pitches, tennis courts, etc to accommodate sports wheelchairs.

It is accepted that door closers fitted to fire doors and doors required to meet the acoustic standards of BB93 may exceed the 20N requirement of Part M for opening and closure. In such cases discussions must take place with OCCCL and the agreed details included in the Access Statement.

General: See Best practice windows and doors.

Accessible toilets


  • One unisex accessible toilet (2.2m x 1.5m) in each teaching block. One to be sited near reception/ hall for visitors.
  • At least one accessible toilet to be a minimum 3m x 2.5m in primary schools and 3m x 3m in secondary schools to allow for future fitting of a wall mounted, height-adjustable changing bed. A 240v fused spur must be provided at ceiling height local to where the bed could be fitted. Thought should be given to the number of these larger rooms at secondary schools. With many teaching blocks, one per school may not be enough, yet one per block may not be needed, so a compromise will need to be agreed with OCCCL.
  • These larger accessible toilets should be fitted out as an assisted-layout, with the pan at least 1m from any side wall, and with drop-down rails on both sides of the pan. As well as a wheelchair-height whb, include a Portman 500 sink at adult standing height with high swan-neck taps with long-arm levers, and provide a dipped drainage gulley in the floor. Services for a shower to be provided, but a shower should only be installed as part of the project if specifically required by the school.
  • It is recommended that a 'ball catch' is fitted to the door with 'D' handles on both sides at 1.2m above finished floor level. This is regardless of whether the door opens inwards or outwards.
    A large plastic (brightly coloured) light action sliding indicator lock should be fitted to the door to allow the door to be locked and opened manually from the inside and by a key from the outside. If the door to an accessible toilet opens inwards, there is no need for a horizontal grabrail to be fitted on the inside of the door. In these circumstances the rail usually ends up hitting the side wall, and damaging it. The door can be pulled open from the inside by the 'D' handle as above. All doors to be fitted with 400mm high kickplates on the push side.
  • Within foundation stage units, one of the cubicles should have an internal floor area of 2.5m x 2.5m and be fitted out as above, with a 1.2m long bed and shower included within the project.
  • Internal measurements should take into account any radiator, which with a LST cover, will require an increased floor area.
  • The initial design specification may not require the installation of a changing bed and/or hoist, but the designer must take into account that these may need to be provided at some point in the future.  The accessible toilet facility must be planned with these fittings in mind, both in the layout of the room and for the structure to provide adequate support to the hoist and changing bed.  This may include, but is not limited to, provision of structural members at ceiling level for joist attachment and loadbearing walls to support a changing bed.  Typical weights should be taken as those of an adult user to provide for long term flexibility of the space.

Lifts: For requirements regarding lift installations see Lift installations.

External path widths to schools: Wherever possible paths around school sites should be constructed to a minimum width of 1.8m. Where due to site conditions the 1.8m width is not possible discussions must take place with OCCCL to agree a suitable compromise. Include details of the justification for the compromise in the Building Control Access Statement.

Gateways to external artificial sports pitches, tennis courts, etc must be wide enough to accommodate sports wheelchairs.

Project related issues

The following issues need to be discussed with OCCCL at the appropriate stage to resolve the provision required:

  • Provision of lift installation.
  • Sound enhancement (e.g. soundfield systems).
  • Provision of a hygiene room for 'high dependency' users in other county buildings.
  • Communication systems in refuges.
  • Compliance with The Equality Act 2010.
  • The additional management requirements that need to be considered for the evacuation of persons with sensory and mobility difficulties when the building is operational.


Ensure that the requirements for people with visual impairment is considered when choosing colours for both internal and external finishes. Specialist advice should be sought where appropriate.