Section 0: Access to and use of dwellings

  1. Section 1

    Section 1


    1.1 This approved document gives guidance about how to comply with requirements M4(1), M4(2) and M4(3) of the Building It contains the following sections:

    Section 1:      Category 1 – Visitable dwellings

    Section 2:       Category 2 – Accessible and adaptable dwellings

    Section 3:     Category 3 – Wheelchair user dwellings


    1.2 The recommendations of this volume of this approved document apply to newly erected dwellings, and dwellings undergoing material alteration, They do not apply to the extension of a dwelling.

    Optional requirements

    1.3 Requirements M4(2) and M4(3) are ‘optional requirements’ as defined in the Building An optional requirement only applies where a condition that one or more dwellings should meet the relevant optional requirement is imposed on new development as part of the process of granting planning permission. Where no condition is imposed, dwellings only need to meet requirements M4(1). Compliance should be assessed against only one of requirements M4(1), M4(2) or M4(3) for any given dwelling.

    1.4 Where any part of an approach route, including vertical circulation in the common parts of a block of flats, is shared between dwellings of different categories, Section A of the optional requirement for the highest numbered category of dwelling served will apply to that part of the approach route.

     1.5 Where a local planning authority sets a planning condition for Category 3 (wheelchair user) housing it can specify which dwellings should be wheelchair accessible by including in the planning permission a condition stating that optional requirement M4(3)(2)(b) Where no such condition is applied, optional requirement M4(3)(2)(a) will apply by default requiring that dwellings should be wheelchair adaptable.

    1.6 The person carrying out building work must inform the building control body where any optional requirements apply.

    Interaction with other legislation

    The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations

    1.7 If people, such as cleaners and caretakers, are employed to work in the common parts of flats and similar buildings the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations will apply.

    1.8 The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations contain some requirements that affect building The main requirements are covered by the Building Regulations. For further information see

    The Equality Act 2010 and Equality Act 2010 (Disability) Regulations

    1.9 Those who dispose of, let or manage premises are subject to the provisions in Part 4 of the Equality Act The Act protects people who meet the Act’s definition of a disabled person from disability discrimination, harassment and victimisation. The provisions in Part 4 of the Act do not apply to the erection of new dwellings.

    Mixed use development

    1.10 Common areas in mixed use development containing both domestic and non domestic functions should meet the requirements for non-domestic buildings in Approved Document M: Volume 2.

    Material alterations

    1.11 Where a dwelling is subject to a material alteration, the building should be no less compliant with requirement M4(1) than it was prior to the building work taking place.

    Historic buildings

    1.12 Historic buildings include listed buildings, buildings in conservation areas, buildings of architectural merit referred to as a material consideration in a Local Plan, buildings of architectural and historic merit within national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, world heritage sites and vernacular buildings of traditional form and construction.

    1.13 Requirements for accessibility should be balanced against preserving historic buildings or In achieving an appropriate balance it would be appropriate to take into account the advice of the local authority’s conservation and access officers, English Heritage and the views of local access groups.

    Interaction with Parts C and K of the Building Regulations

    1.14 Requirements M4(1), M4(2) and M4(3) of Part M set out requirements for stepped and ramped approaches forming part of accessible approach routes in and around dwellings. Part K sets out requirements for stepped or ramped approaches which form part of a building other than where the requirements of Part M are Where both Part M and Part K apply, requirement M4(1), M4(2) or M4(3) as appropriate of Part M takes precedence.

    1.15 In meeting the provisions of Part M by providing a level or ramped approach and level threshold, care must be taken to ensure the moisture resistance and design of the dwelling as a whole also complies with requirements C2 and C4.