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Accessibility rules for older buildings may get a boost

May 27th, 2012 · No Comments

 

As nearly all public buildings in Singapore property have attained some level of basic accessibility, and virtually nine in 10 buildings near Orchard Road now offer some accessibility features, the government is not ruling out legislation to provide already existing buildings constructed prior 1990 an added momentum to meet basic accessibility requirements.

‘We probably need a carrot-and-stick approach in the longer term,’ said John Keung, chief executive of the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). ‘We will press on with our Accessibility Fund and see how far we can go. Of course, we don’t rule out (introducing legislation into the building code and) making this mandatory one day.’

The compulsory requirement in the Accessibility Code, which was enforceable since 1990, do not have retroactive effect.  As such, upgrading to give basic accessibility for pre-1990 buildings is voluntary.

An evaluation of the existing Accessibility Code, which will be finished by the end of the year, will embrace universal design features such as nursing rooms, smaller-sized toilet facilities for children, and family parking lots.

The BCA also commented  that the $40 million Accessibility Fund, which permits existing building owners to apply for grants for the purpose of upgrading their respective buildings to take in basic accessibility features, will be extended to 2017.

Launched in 2007, the fund co-pays up to 80 per cent of the cost for giving basic accessibility features to existing private buildings (except landed properties), subject to a cap of $300,000 per project.

As of February 2012, 101 applications have been approved – $6 million has been disbursed, with another $2.5 million under consideration. At present, almost all public buildings have attained at least basic accessibility. Nonetheless, challenges continue in getting existing private building owners to come on board, said Dr Keung.

Approximately 88 per cent of buildings along Orchard Road are now provided with at least basic accessibility, from 41 per cent in 2006. Outstanding buildings that the BCAwishes to bring on board are Liat Towers, Tong Building, Midpoint Orchard, and Concorde Hotel.

Said Dr Keung: ‘We really hope that most of our key areas, whether Orchard Road, Shenton Way, or some other regional commercial centres, get as many private commercial buildings to come on board as possible.’

As of end-2011, slightly over 50 per cent of buildings in Shenton Way have barrier-free access, said the BCA.

The BCA call together a second meeting with the International Panel of Experts on Universal Design from March 28 to 30 with experts from Japan, Spain, Norway, the UK and US.

 

 

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