Setting up a new business – do I need to provide access to persons with disability?

Question: I am thinking of opening up a business but the premises that I would like to use is old and will need quite a bit of work.  I was told that the premises may need a substantial amount of work to allow access to persons with disability.  Is this correct?

Answer: There are new regulations in force since 1st January 2010 which provide for a completely new system to ensure there is access for people with disability.  In short you cannot open, operate or occupy a building unless a Disability Access Certificate (DAC) has been granted by the Building Control Authority in respect of the building.  The regulations apply to any new building (apart from new houses) and to an existing building where significant revisions or changes are made to it.  

While you do not need a DAC for a new house, part M of the Building Regulations was extended to new houses in 2000 and all new houses since that date must be designed and built so as to provide access for the disabled.

The procedure for applying for a DAC is very similar to the procedure for obtaining a Fire Safety Certificate and further detailed information should be available from the planning office of the local authority. 

The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice.  Specific legal advice should be sought on any particular matter.

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