… or, how the requirements for toilet provisions are changing. Michelle Barkley, technical director at Chapman Taylor and chair of the BS 6465-1 committee, reports

ritish Standard BS 6465 covers all types of sanitary appliances, such as toilets, sinks and baths, but is mainly known as the standard that gives recommendations for toilet provision in new buildings. A previous edition of the standard is quoted in approved document G of the Building Regulations as an acceptable means of showing that adequate numbers of toilets have been provided in buildings. BS 6465 has just been updated and it is hoped this new standard will be quoted as an acceptable means of compliance with Part G, when that document is updated in the near future.

The first change is that the standard is now in three parts, rather than two. BS 6465-1: 2006 is entitled “Code of practice for the design of sanitary facilities and scales of provision for sanitary and associated appliances”. Part 2, which was published in 1996, covers space provision for all sanitary appliances, and a new Part 3 is due out shortly, entitled “Code of practice for the selection, installation and maintenance of sanitary and associated appliances”. This will give a lot more information on water saving and waterless appliances.

The new Part 1, for the first time, covers the design of toilet areas in detail and gives recommendations for the provision of facilities such as cleaners’ rooms and nappy changing areas. There is also a new section on the provision of temporary toilets, and a greatly expanded section giving recommendations for the design and scale of provision of public lavatories.

The notable change to the scales of provision of toilets is that the table that dealt with public buildings has been divided into two tables, one of which covers buildings such as libraries, museums and so on, where toilet use is spread evenly throughout opening times, and the second for buildings where toilet use is concentrated into intervals, such as theatres and concert halls.

The new document, for the first time, covers the design of toilet areas and gives recommendations for the provision of facilities such as cleaners’ rooms

Research has shown that women take almost three times as long as men to use toilet facilities, but the numbers of appliances provided for females are often fewer than for the same number of men, hence the ubiquitous queues at the ladies’ loos. The new standard generally increases the number of appliances for women and in no case will they have fewer appliances than men. This is an area where further research is required to produce accurate usage data, so the standard does not generally reduce male provision, although it would appear that there is sometimes overprovision for men.

Another factor that will influence toilet provision is the requirement to link the number of toilets provided more accurately to the number of people in the building, by linking numbers to fire escape provision. This change does not mean that there will be ample toilets for an occupancy that may never be reached, but that that there should not be queues in “normal” peak times. For example, there should not be queues on a Saturday afternoon in a shopping centre, although there may be queues on the Saturday before Christmas, when levels of usage are likely to be exceptionally high and unrepresentative of normal demand.

Apart from the forthcoming update of Part G, one of the factors that the government will be considering is the Equality Act, which will amend the Sex Discrimination Act when it comes fully into force next April. This requires public bodies to ensure that they do not discriminate against women in the provision of their services, and that they encourage other providers to do the same. Toilet provision appears to be one of the last bastions of sex discrimination, and we hope that this standard will help remedy that situation in new buildings, so that we can look forward to adequate toilet provision for everybody.