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Building (Planning) (Amendment) Regulation 2008 gazetted
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    The Building (Planning) (Amendment) Regulation 2008 gazetted today (May 16) seeks to enhance the design requirements governing the provision of facilities to allow access to and the use of buildings and their facilities by people with disabilities.

    "The purpose of the amendments is to tie in with the revised design requirements set out in the Design Manual - Barrier Free Access 2008.  The Administration conducted a review of the Design Manual - Barrier Free Access 1997 with a view to enhancing the design requirements, taking into account changes in building technology and expectation of the community.  On completion of an extensive consultation, including a six-month public consultation and seeking the views of the Legislative Council Panel on Welfare Services, the construction industry, groups of persons with disabilities and other stakeholders, a new Design Manual was finalised in late 2007," a government spokesman said.

    The major areas of enhancement covered in the amendment regulation include:

*@Introduction of new requirements on the provision of access to an auditorium and related facilities, Braille and tactile information, tactile warning strips and tactile guide path for different types of buildings;

*@Introduction of detailed requirements on the number, size and signage of parking spaces for people with disabilities;

*@Revision of door design requirements in terms of width and closing device;

*@Improvement of directional signage to guide people with disabilities  to find their way;

*@Specification of minimum illumination levels for corridors, accessible paths, staircases and lift lobbies for people with visual impairment;

*@Incorporation of more detailed requirements for emergency call bells in accessible toilets; and

*@The provision of assistive listening systems for people with a hearing impairment.

    "The amendment regulation will be tabled in the Legislative Council next Wednesday (May 21).  It will come into operation on a day to be appointed by the Secretary for Development, and will apply to new buildings and substantial alterations or additions of existing buildings, subject to the exemptions in section 41 of the Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123)," the spokesman said.

    Section 84 of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487) provides that, notwithstanding any provision in any other Ordinance, a public authority, including the Building Authority, shall not approve building plans unless he is satisfied that reasonable access for people with disabilities will be provided to the building.

    The Building Authority issued, in 1997, the Design Manual - Barrier Free Access 1997 to provide guidance to the practitioners of the construction industry. To enforce the obligatory requirements therein, amendments were made to the Building (Planning) Regulations (Cap. 123 sub. leg. F) to ensure that newly constructed or substantially altered private buildings are provided with the required facilities before approval was given to the building plans.

Ends/Friday, May 16, 2008
Issued at HKT 17:42

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