17 August 2023
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In case you are not already aware, the UK Government announced this week its concerted efforts to counter the growing trend of gender neutral washrooms.
As part of a wider initiative to uphold and protect single sex spaces and ensure suitable facilities for everyone, the government intends to make changes to regulations that will require all new non-domestic public and private buildings to include single sex toilets (separate male and female toilets) and/or private self-contained toilets as a minimum.
These changes will affect England only.
What led to this change?
The shift can be attributed to the mounting concerns related to gender-neutral facilities. As people were forced to share washrooms and handwashing spaces, the concerns escalated around the extended shared queues, limited washroom options, and a lack of privacy and dignity.
Additionally, the transformation to gender neutral facilities from publicly accessible single sex toilets has sparked feelings of unfair disadvantage among women and elderly individuals.
This change in UK building requirements aims to address these growing concerns and restore a sense of equality, access, personal privacy and dignity for all.
What does this mean for developers and architects?
Do you have to have separate male and female toilets?
Apart from making single sex toilets the standard for new non-domestic buildings and major refurbishments, the guidelines will also encourage the consideration of self-contained toilets, (also known as a superloo). In the consultation document and accompanying documents, the phrase ‘universal toilets’ is used for self-contained toilets.
Learn more about what you need to know about Superloos.
The changes will be made through building regulations and guidance. The aim of the new requirements will ensure that:
- separate single-sex toilets facilities are provided for men and women and/or
- self-contained, private toilets are provided where space allows to ensure privacy and safety
- mixed sex shared facilities are not an option, except when lack of space allows only a single toilet
How will this affect your new development or major refurbishment?
The UK Government states the new requirement for single sex toilets in new buildings will not have a significant effect on the size or layout of the buildings and the regulations are not expected to lead to a noticeable increase in the space needed for washrooms when compared to the current approach or standard practice.
UK Government proposes building regulations for toilets to uphold privacy and dignity in public facilities
Minister for Women and Equalities
“It is important that everybody has privacy and dignity when using public facilities. Yet the move towards ‘gender neutral’ toilets has removed this fundamental right for women and girls.”
“These proposals will ensure every new building in England is required to provide separate male and female or unisex facilities, and publish guidance to explain the difference, protecting the dignity, privacy and safety of all.”
– Kemi Badenoch
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Faith & Communities
“It is extremely important women can feel comfortable when using public facilities, so we are taking action to restore dignity and privacy at the centre of all future provision.”
“These proposals will mean separate toilets for men and women, as well as self-contained toilets for those that need them, become a requirement for every new building across England.”
– Baroness Scott
What are the next steps in this process?
A new short technical open consultation to shape the changes has opened and seeks views on the Government’s proposals for the building regulations relating to the provision of single sex toilets.
This consultation closes at 11:59pm on 8 October 2023.
You can respond by:
Dolphin Solutions remains up to date with the latest washroom regulations and we are readily available to help in addressing any inquiries you may have.