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An Overview of the Passenger Lift Requirements within Part M: Volume 2

Part M Volume 2, provides practical guidance for complying with building regulation requirements for buildings other than dwellings. This post is the third in the series of our Part M: Volume 2 building regulations blogs and covers passenger lift requirements within Part M in detail.

What is Part M: Volume 2?

These building regulations refer to the accessibility and use of buildings, Approved Document M (2015 edition) Volume 2 for Buildings other than dwellings (all other building types) and gives direction on enabling a public access building to conform to the Equality Act (formerly DDA)

Section three of Part M Volume 2 sets the objective for the horizontal and vertical circulation of people in buildings, first covering the general lifting provisions and design requirements before going into specific requirements for each lift type.

We have outlined the specific passenger lift requirements below as well as some additional items that are a worthwhile consideration as part of your Part M lifts.

Passenger lifts in building

Regardless of the type of lift, there are certain general design considerations when placing a lifting device in any building in order to comply with the Part M building requirements.

Generally speaking, passenger lifts tend to be most commonly fitted in new-builds where it’s easier to build a lift shaft and pit. Passenger lifts are also the ideal solution for buildings where lifts will be frequently used, either due to the size of the building or where the lift will be the primary method of travelling between floors.

The specific requirements that apply to any passenger lift will obviously vary considerably depending on the lift application and the building type.

Passenger lift design considerations 

Although there are general design considerations, there are also some specific passenger lift design considerations. Below are the key questions to help ensure the requirements are met;

1. Does you lift comply with the relevant standards? 

The first step is to consider whether the type of device you are planning to install is 'fit for purpose' (Section 3.25 of Part M, Vol.2). To ensure this is met, you must refer to relevant legislation such as the Lift Regulations, the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER), the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

Any UK passenger lifts also need to comply to the relevant EN81 series of standards, in particular BS EN81-70: 2003 Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts. (Click on this link to see a glossary of lift standards).

2. What size lift car and configuration do you require?

The number of people you need to fit in a passenger lift and how frequently it will be used, as well as any restrictions that the building itself may cause, will all help to determine which car size will fit your requirements. Part M gives further direction of the size:

3.29 Lift sizes should be chosen to suit the anticipated density of use of the building and the needs of disabled people.

If the building that you are trying to install a lifting device in needs to comply with the building regulations and you are installing a passenger lift/a series of lifts, then there are recommended sizes below: 

  No of persons Weight Width Depth
Minimum size 8 person 630kg 1100mm 1400mm
Larger size* 17 person 1275kg 1200mm 2300mm

* Part M recommends a larger lift size of 2000mm wide by 1400mm deep to accommodate any type of wheelchair together with other passengers, also enabling a wheelchair/frame user to turn through 180 degrees. This is comparable to a 17- person lift.through car passenger lift.jpg

Of course passenger lifts come in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from 6 person through to 33 person. Choosing the best size lift depends on the application, building space and traffic flow. 

Ideally the regulations also recommend (in buildings where space and planning allows) to carefully consider the fitting of opposing doors (used for access between two levels only) to enable a through lift car arrangement (shown above). As referred to in part 3.33, they enable a wheelchair user to exit the lift without having to reverse out.

3. Does the area in front of, and in the lift enable free and easy movement (with particular consideration for wheelchair users)?

Detailed guidance around the position and functionality of lift doors and manoeuvring space can be found in the regulations but the general rules state that:

  • clear and sufficient space must always be left in front of lifts;
  • landing buttons and car controls should be easy to reach;
  • landing call buttons must be easily accessible for all and located between 900mm and 1100mm from the floor of the landing and at least 400mm from any return wall.

Timing is another issue that must be addressed as some lift users such as the elderly or anyone with a physical disability may require longer to enter and exit the lift, therefore passenger lift doors are fitted with timing devices and sensors to allow adequate time and space to enter and exit a lift. A handrail is useful for those requiring reassurance/assistance whilst travelling in the lift.

In many instances, this is required to achieve the minimum of 500mm clear access from the landing call buttons. For lifting platforms this can be a frequent problem and one that can be helped through the installation of powered door operators or opting for extra flush/pedestal-mounted call stations at each ground and upper-landing.

4. Are all users able to use the lift independently, without concern? 

landing passenger lift entrance.jpgThe needs of lift users with an audio or visual impairment must be taken into consideration and the following regulations must be adhered to in order to avoid danger, discomfort and confusion of users. Lift landing and car doors should be clearly distinguishable visually from the adjoining walls and areas of glass are identifiable by people with impaired vision.

It's important to consider whether those with a visual impairment can operate the lift, therefore controls should be raised and visually contrasted with adequate lighting in place and a floor that has frictional qualities similar to, or higher than, the floor of the landing (which cannot be a dark colour). It is also worth considering that certain colours, patterns and textures can also have a similar effect. Whilst the finishes/colours within the lift have an implication for users with a visual impairment, it can also create confusion for dementia sufferers (find out more in our blog about specifying with dementia in mind). If there are specific requirements for finishes it is always worth discussing this with your chosen lift company.

To ensure fair access for all, the visual needs of wheelchair users must also be addressed. For example, if a lift without opposing doors is fitted then a wheelchair user will need to see the space behind them in order to enable them to turn around within the lift car, so mirrors must be provided at the rear of the lift to facilitate this.


For each different lift type there are specific design considerations and provisions outlined in the Approved Document M - Volume 2. So once you know which product you require, it's always worth stating to your chosen lift supplier that you require a Part M compliant lift or 'Part M lift' and they should be able to assist you with the process.

Further detailed guidance on this topic for other types of lift as well as guidance on the general requirements is also available on our website:

Part M: General overview
Part M: General requirements for Lifting devices (link to blog)
Part M and Platform lifts (coming shortly)
Part M and Platform stairlifts (coming shortly)

A reputable lift provider will be able to assist you in your decision making, however, as the approach and service received by each lift supplier can vary significantly, it's certainly worth being well-informed about these design considerations yourself.

Of course, compliance to Part M is just one of the many factors to evaluate when choosing the right type of lift, or lifts, for your building project. In fact, we've a helpful blog outlining the three key considerations when choosing a lift.

How can we help?

Here at Stannah we offer a broad range of passenger lift and platform lift products to enable easy vertical circulation, working with you to solve your access problem and comply to building regulations.

See our range of lifts

To see key product requirements, building considerations and typical installation times, why not take a look at our handy passenger lifts and platform lifts infographic

Stannah Lifts Moving People Infographic

Still unsure? No problem! Get in touch to speak to one of our 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 for many years, been in support of various committees in developing industry regulations and standards. Our experience means that we are an authoritative voice in the lift industry. 

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