The latest from our blog

Building Regulations - Do I need a lift?

Here is a handy overview of the regulations that outline best practice for making your building accessible and efficient when moving people and the key differences between the types of passenger carrying lifts available. 

The Equality Act 2010, what does it mean?

Sometimes, a physical feature of a building (or other premises) can make it more difficult for a person with impaired mobility to access. The Equality Act 2010 states that if you’re placing someone at a substantial disadvantage, you have a duty to make reasonable adjustments. This is where a lift can play a part.

For both new and existing buildings we look to the guidance of BS 8300:2009 Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people - Code of practice (+A1:2010) and Building  Regulations, Approved Document  M Volume 2 - Buildings other than dwelling to give instruction on best lift selection. 

What is Part M?

The Building Regulations, Approved Document M Volume 2 – (Part M) gives direction on enabling a public access building to conform to the Equality Act. This document states that reasonable provision must be made for people to gain access to and use the building's facilities. Part M states that the preferred solution to disabled access is a passenger lift, but it also recognises that it may not always be possible for a building to accommodate one. 

What is BS 8300:2009+A1:2010?

The British Standard BS 8300: 2009+A1:2010 looks at the design of new buildings and their ability to meet the requirements of disabled people. Moreover, in offering best-practice recommendations, this standard explains how architectural design and the built environment can help disabled people to make the most of their surroundings. This standard strongly recommends that in multi-storey buildings, at least one lift (of sufficient size) must be made accessible to wheelchair users.

So, do I need a lift?

A lift is key to the vertical circulation of people in any public building, whether it's a simple change in level where it is not possible to provide a ramp, or the building has two or more floors that people with impaired mobility need to travel between.

If your commercial premises, museum, restaurant or shop has two or more floors, or changes in level within the building, then you will likely require some sort of lift if you are to provide access for all. 

Which type of lift do I need?

The preference of both standards is for a passenger lift first and foremost. However, depending on the building constraints and requirements it may be the case that your building needs a passenger lift rather than a platform lift, or vice-versa. So how do you decide which lift is best for your building?  

Types of vertical passenger carrying lifts 

To help you decide which lift is best for you, we will go through the main types and the differences between them. Here's a neat little summary on the key differences and a little more detail on the benefits of each type.

 Product type  Passenger lift Platform lift
Travel Up to 40 metres Up to 12 metres
Speed > 0.15 metres per second <= 0.15 metres per second
Number of people from 3 to 33 people from one wheelchair user to up to 5 people
Relevant Directive Lifts Directive Machinery Directive

What is a passenger lift? 

Passenger lifts fall under the Lifts Directive, so travel faster than 0.15m/s. They come in all shapes and sizes, though eight person is the most common lift size as specified in Part M. These lifts can range in size from 3 people, all the way through to 33 people and beyond. These types of lifts are best for new buildings, where it is easier to build a lift shaft, and create a lift pit etc or where there is an existing shaft. They also make a great addition to a building where the lift will get extensive use due to the building size or where the lift will be the primary means of traveling between floors.

What is a platform lift?

A platform lift falls under the Machinery Directive so travels 0.15m/s or less. Due to the slower speed it is designed to provide vertical movement between floors in a low rise building (typically two to four floors). There are many variants within the platform lift family, including cabin platform lifts, low speed passenger lifts and finally wheelchair platform stairlifts

Platform lifts are best for low rise buildings where most people will use the stairs, existing buildings where it is not possible and/or cost prohibitive to install a passenger lift or buildings where there is a disabled access problem.


If your commercial premises, museum, restaurant or shop has two or more floors, or changes in level within the building, then you will likely require some sort of lift if you are to provide access for all. Below is a useful summary for the type of applications each type of lift is best for.


We hope that this blog gives a summary of the building standards and lift regulations surrounding access and compliance, helping to clarify the two main types of lifts that are available.

Here at Stannah we offer a broad range of vertical passenger carrying lifts. To see key product requirements, building considerations and typical installation times take a look at our handy infographic

  Stannah Lifts Moving People Infographic

Still unsure? No problem! Get in touch to speak to one of our lift experts. 

Why are we the experts?  

Stannah have been supplying lifts since 1867 and have considerable experience of the choices and challenges facing architects, building owners and specifiers as a result. We are members of the Lift & Escalator Industry Association (LEIA), and have been for many years, supporting various committees in developing industry regulations and standards. Our experience means we are an authoritative voice in the lift industry.

Know someone else who might enjoy this article? Share it!