Changing Places Building Regulations & Approved Document M

This article examines Changing Places building regulations, based on the most recent update to approved document M implemented January 2021.

What Are Building Regulations?

Building regulations in the UK ensure both commercial and domestic buildings are safe, functional, and healthy spaces for people to be in. The regulations are mainly used when planning new buildings, conversions, extensions or performing major renovation work. They are not usually applied retrospectively to existing buildings.

The regulations are statutory and help planners meet policies set out in legislation (law). ‘Building regulations approval’ is needed for most new building projects.

Covering a wide range of areas, mostly relating to safety and access, the regulations are separated into 16 different headings, labelled Part A to Part Q. Each heading covers a different topic, including fire safety, ventilation, and accessibility.


What Is Approved Document M?

Access to and use of buildings: Approved Document M is the statutory guidance part of Building regulations which requires planners to make buildings easy to access and circulate for people with disabilities, including the facilities which must also be provided.

According to Approved Document M, new buildings should:

  • Allow access and use of a building for all
  • Provide suitable toilet provisions for all
  • Provide reasonable solutions to seat disabled people (in buildings such as stadiums)


Approved documents, including document M, are not legally binding in a literal way – they set out a minimum appropriate standard expected by the Secretary of State to comply with building regulations.

Download further information about Changing Places.
Modular Changing Places Toilet for Transport

Approved Document M & Changing Places

Approved document M is set out in two volumes – one for use in dwellings (homes) and another for buildings other than dwellings.

It is in volume 2 that planners can find guidance on Changing Places toilets and their inclusion in new buildings. Section 5 specifically details sanitary accommodations in buildings other than dwellings.

Paragraph 5.6 on page 48 states:

“In large building developments, separate facilities for baby changing and an enlarged unisex toilet incorporating an adult changing table are desirable. Changing places toilets, facilities designed for individuals with complex and multiple impairments who may require the assistance of up to two assistants, should be provided in addition to any wheelchair-accessible accommodation in separate-sex toilet washrooms, wheelchair-accessible unisex toileting facilities and baby changing facilities.”

This paragraph says Changing Places toilets are ‘desirable’, which in the past has left a grey area in which builders can avoid the inclusion of Changing Places. however, a significant amendment was made to document M in 2020.

A new section added to paragraph 5.7 now states which type of building must include at least one Changing Places toilet:

At least one changing places toilet is provided in the following types of building:

  • Assembly, recreation and entertainment buildings (see note) with a capacity for 350 or more people; or a collection of smaller buildings associated with a site used for assembly, recreation or entertainment, such as zoos, theme parks and venues for sport and exhibitions, with a capacity of 2000 people or more
  • Shopping centres/malls or retail parks with a gross floor area of 30,000m2 or more
  • Retail premises with a gross floor area of 2500m2 or more
  • Sport and leisure buildings with a gross floor area more than 5000m2
  • Hospitals and primary care centres
  • Crematoria and cemetery buildings


An additional note clarifies what places of assembly, recreation and entertainment can be defined as:

  • amusement arcades
  • art galleries
  • cinemas
  • concert halls
  • conference centres
  • further education colleges
  • hotels that provide function, sport or leisure facilities
  • libraries open to the public
  • motorway service areas
  • museums
  • places of worship
  • theatres
  • university buildings open to the public


How Does BS8300 Relate To Doc M?

British Standard 8300 (Design of an accessible and inclusive built environment. Buildings. Code of practice) is used in conjunction with approved document M to give practical guidance on how its requirements can be included within a new building.

BS8300 illustrates what a Changing Places bathroom should look like, giving a suggested layout, minimum size requirements, and a list of equipment.

It is recommended that all Changing Places are built in compliance with the British Standard.

RISE offer a free consultation service to advise on the feasibility, design and costs of a Changing Places facility.
We designed and built a new room to house Changing Places facility within the National Space Centre, and installed all specialist equipment.
We adapted the existing toilet facilities at Northumberland’s Woodhorn Museum into a fully compliant Changing Places toilet.
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