Building regulations: key guidance for lifts

Here is a handy overview of the key acts, regulations and standards that outline best practice around lifts - ensuring that any commercial/public building is accessible and efficient when moving people.


There are three main items that outline the best practice for making a commercial/public building accessible, namely;

  1. The legal framework, the Equality Act 

  2. The building regulations, Part M Vol.1 & Vol.2 and Part B or Section 4 of the Technical Handbook (Scottish Part M Equivalent)

  3. The design guidance, the recently updated British Standard BS 8300: 2018 - Part 1 & 2.

These all help to outline the legal requirements, what lift to consider in a new building and the preference and guidance on ensuring an accessible lift. The latter two highlight specific lift requirements and preferences between the different types of passenger moving lifts.

1. Equality Act 2010.. the legal bit

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 (formerly DDA) states that if you place someone at a substantial disadvantage, you have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments. This is where a lift can play a part. 

It's possible to install one or more disabled access lifts in most buildings that have two or more floors or to provide a ramp or step lift where there is a short flight of stairs. Any lift adds value to the commercial property it's placed in by speeding up the movement of people up and down the building and helps the building owner meet the requirements of the Act.

find out more about the Equality Act

For both new and existing buildings, we look to Building  Regulations to give instruction on the best lift selection and the specific requirements to comply with and the guidance of BS 8300:2018 Design of an accessible and inclusive built environment to selecting and creating an accessible lift. 

2a. Part M & Part B ... the regulations in England & Wales

The Building Regulations, Approved Document M (Part M) gives direction on enabling a public access building to conform to the Equality Act. This public access regs document states that reasonable provision must be made for people to gain access to and use the building's facilities.

Fire Safety: Approved Document B is the building regulation in England which covers all fire safety matters within and around buildings as well as further detail on firefighting and evacuation passenger lifts

find out more about part M & lifts

In summary, Part M states that the preferred solution to disabled access is a passenger lift, with the number of lifts depending upon the application, but it also recognises that it may not always be possible for a building to accommodate one so proposes the next best alternatives, namely platform lift and wheelchair platform stairlift.

2b. Section 4.2 ... the regulations in Scotland

Like its English counterpart, Section 4.2 gives direction on enabling a public access building to conform to the Equality Act. Most of the requirements of Section 4.2 are identical or closely similar to Part M. However, the platform size requirements do differ with the Scotland document, requiring larger minimum sizes for both low and medium-rise platform lifts.

find out more about Section 4.2 & lifts

3. BS 8300:2018... the design guidance

The new British Standard BS 8300: 2018 (Part 1 and 2) looks at the design of new buildings and their ability to create an inclusive environment.  Both parts of BS 8300 supersede the 2009 version of this standard, which has been withdrawn. 

This revised code of practice aims to give the information needed to create an inclusive environment from the outset of a project. Part 1 primarily covers access in and around the external environment and the approaches to buildings. Part 2 provides guidance on access within buildings, including the facilities that should be provided inside buildings.

The act also states that that building design must ensure that effective barriers against smoke and fire are provided, without impeding access for all. 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.

An accessible lift will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Can be found easily

  • Is large enough for its intended use

  • Leaves space outside to manoeuvre

  • Is fitted with lift controls that are easily found and identifiable

  • Is fitted with visual and audible signals

  • Has a clear entrance of suitable width

  • Is fitted with a reasonable level of lighting in the car and on all landings

  • Is accurate on stopping to ensure ease of entry/exit


For any building, existing or new it is important to consider the guidance above and we hope that this blog gives a summary of the lift requirement within them. A reputable lift provider will be able to assist you in your decision making, however, it's certainly worth being well-informed about these design considerations yourself. Here at Stannah, we offer a broad range of platform lift products (and passenger lifts) to enable easy vertical circulation, working with you to solve your access problem and comply with building regulations.

see our range of lifts

It's also worth pointing out that depending on the type of lift and the specification will then define the further standards that lift falls under - for a full list of lift standards take a look at our glossary

Or, if you think you require a lift then why not take a look at our 3 key considerations when choosing a people moving lift or find further information on our website. 


With nearly 50,000 installations across the UK and over 92,000 units in our service portfolio, we offer a wide range of lift solutions and services to move people and goods. Take a look at our product range or simply get in touch.

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