BCA to expand accessibility mandatory requirements for existing buildings

SINGAPORE: The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) will introduce new mandatory requirements on barrier-free accessibility in existing buildings from 2017. These requirements will mean that owners of commercial and institutional buildings – visited frequently by the public – must include barrier-free accessibility upgrades when they undergo additions and alterations (A&A) works. Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development, announced the new requirements to existing buildings this morning at the opening of the Singapore Universal Design Week 2016, where he officiated as the Guest-of-Honour.

Ramp leading to the elavator1.  Commenting on the expanded requirements, BCA’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. John Keung said, “For a future-ready built environment we need to prepare for tomorrow even as we build today. Singapore’s demographics will change in the next few generations, so these requirements will compel us – including the industry – to plan ahead on how our living environment can meet the needs of all Singaporeans. This is not just about improving the accessibility of our buildings but also concerns the employability, social mobility and convenience of everyone.”

2. Under the new requirements, owners of existing buildings undergoing A&A works must provide basic accessibility to their premises, i.e., by making the building entrance barrier-free and one toilet accessible to a wheelchair user (Table 1). The new requirements will apply to commercial and institutional buildings that are frequently visited by members of the public, such as offices, schools, universities, community clubs, shopping centres, markets and food centres.

3. For example, when an existing ten-storey commercial building, without an accessible building entrance and an accessible toilet, undergoes A&A works on its ninth and tenth storeys, there is currently no requirement to provide barrier-free accessibility beyond the works at these two floors. Under the new requirements, the owner must provide an accessible building entrance and one accessible toilet in addition to the current requirements that the ninth and tenth storeys must be accessible.

Minimum requirements for existing buildings
Require to be made accessible
Accessible entrance (New)    Provide either a ramp or a stair-lift / platform lift to overcome steps
Accessible toilet (New)    Provide at least one accessible toilet

4. To encourage more owners of existing buildings incorporate barrier-free upgrades as part of the A&A works, BCA will extend the S$40-million Accessibility Fund for a further five years, i.e., from FY2017 to FY2021, expand its scope and enhance its eligibility criteria to benefit more building owners. The Fund will cover accessibility features for the visually and hearing impaired and allow up to two applications per building or development.

5. BCA’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. John Keung said, “With these improvements to the Accessibility Fund, our objective is to encourage owners to plan gradual improvements to their buildings’ accessibility that are in line with their maintenance and A&A cycles. We hope that the expanded eligibility criteria will also bring earlier applicants of the Fund back to upgrade their buildings with additional features and enjoy the same incentive that is available to new applicants. We hope that the Fund and the additional requirements will put us one step closer to fulfilling our goal of having 70% of commercial and institutional buildings in Singapore barrier-free by 2030.”

6. Events during the Week such as the Universal Design Conference, the Exhibition and the Universal Design Forum will facilitate sharing among the experts, industry and voluntary welfare organisations on inclusive design in the built environment. It is part of BCA’s efforts since 2008 to promote Universal Design in Singapore.

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