The new code for greater accessibility which took effect on the first of April were drawn up by the BCA [Building and Construction Authority] are designed to deal with the anticipated problems of dealing with and ageing population who will make greater use of mobility aids like wheelchairs.
The new legislation means that the wider corridor width in new private condominiums will have to increase to 1.5 metres from 1.2 metres.
There are many observers who feel that the new rules are an over reaction as it is believed that there are likely to be very few users of wheelchairs in private buildings apart from those which are designed as retirement homes and would automatically be built for ease of access.
The overall feeling is that this is an unnecessary change in building regulations which will have an upwards effect on selling prices if wider corridor in properties is constructed.
Wider Corridor in Properties for aging population
It is obvious that any increase in access areas will leave less floor space for the main purpose of the development be it residential or commercial usage.
HDB flats will also be affected and developments such as The Hillford on Jalan Jurong Kechil the 281 retirement home would find the extra access helpful but this is a purpose designed retirement village and would probably not be sensibly transferred to normal condominiums as the access is normally used by fewer people.
Retirement Villages should have wider corridor for wheelchairs
The challenge to maintain profits will be hard to maintain without an increase in the selling price, there would be no other option with the reduction of saleable floor area, said EL Development’s Managing Director mar. Mr. Lim Yew Soon he also pointed out that these new rules could have the effect of increasing the actual cost of the usable land by five per cent which would have to be passed on. However the realities of the market place were that buyers would not be willing to accept higher prices so eventually these would be an extra cost for the developers.
However this situation would not last forever so in the end this legislation would inevitably lead to higher prices if wider corridor is constructed.
The reality of private condo design is that a corridor would only serve a maximum of 8 units maybe only 4 and in may cases were the access to a single unit
The new BCA code was designed so that a wheelchair could pass a pedestrian to pass each other in the corridor with ease, providing a safe and comfortable thoroughfare for all users especially the rising older members of society who obviously are using more mechanised assistance in mobility.
Wider Corridor may cause developers more cost in building project
The worldwide problem of a rising elderly population is typified by Singapore where at present the median range of the population was 39 in 2011 but was projected to rise to 47 by the year 2030. this figure is projected assuming no increase in immigrants and the birth rate remains the same.
At present the width of corridors in those areas of greatest traffic such as colleges, Railway stations hospitals, malls and nursing homes is 1.8 metres but the new minimum of 1.5 m will apply to a lot of other commercial developments such as hotels, schools and offices as well as manufacturing sites such as factories.
Understandably the new code for size of access widths will also apply to any submissions for alteration to existing buildings as well as all new applications from the first of April.
All submissions to the Building Control Authority must meet these dimensional requirements to achieve approval.