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How to Work Out Length of Ramp Required Wheelchair Ramps Disabled Access

There are a lot of considerations when working out the length required for a wheelchair ramp.

The 1st important point is – Does it need to comply to Building regulations?

This is a question we are often asked but unfortunately cannot answer as it is something you need to find out.

As a rule though, unless it is part of a building project, change of use, etc. building regulations do not apply to modular and portable ramps if they are not classed as part of the structure.

When Building regulations do apply to wheelchair ramps it then depends on which regulations apply
Approved Document K of building Regulations relates to the Protection from falling, collision and impact.
Approved Document M of building Regulations relates to Access to and use of buildings.

Where it becomes more complicated is Part M is divided in to 2 volumes;
Approved Document M: access to and use of buildings, volume 1: dwellings
Approved Document M: access to and use of buildings, volume 2: buildings other than dwellings

And where it is even more complicated, Volume 1 is divided in to 3 classes of dwellings.

What this effectively means is when someone asks do Building regs apply – the answer is Which ones?
We cannot answer this – It is a question for your developer, architect, access consultant, local council

How to Work Out Length of Ramp Required When Building Regulations do not Apply


Note: this is guidance only from a leading ramp manufacturer, it is up to you to ensure your ramp is safe and fit for purpose

How Steep Should Wheelchair Ramps Be*

1:6 (10°)** – Acceptable in some cases for short threshold ramps.

1:8 (8°)** – A useful balance between gradient and space, suitable for portable ramps in some assisted applications and events, etc.

1:12 (5°) – Often required by social services/local authorities. Minimum required by Part M of building regs for installed ramps.

1:15 (4°) – Sometimes required by social services/local authorities for independent access.

* – As recommended by leading UK Ramp Manufacturer

** – Wheelchairs must descend backwards – Assess safety/risk

To work out the length of ramp required you effectively find the total height and multiply it by the gradient, (a simple sum to remember this is H x G = L )

For instance when working on a 1:12 gradient if the height is 30cm the sum is 30 x 12 = 36 a 3.6m ramp

To make things simple for a 1:8 or 1:12 gradient we have created this handy little wheelchair ramp calculator

Wheelchair Ramp Calculator

To create a 1:8 gradient
Select height of step:
To create a 1:12 gradient
Select height of step:

Length of ramp required to comply with UK Building Regulations

The following table shows the minimum ramp length required to comply with current UK Building Regulations from the Approved Document M: access to and use of buildings, volume 2: buildings other than dwellings

Note: 10m is the maximum length a ramp should be before including a level resting platform of 1.5m minimum length.

Height of Step
Length of Ramp
10cm
1.2m
12cm
1.5m
15cmm
1.8m
17cm
2.1m
20cm
2.5m
23cm
3.0m
26cm
3.5m
28cm
4.0m
31cm
4.5m
33cm
5.0m
37cm
6.0m
39cm
6.5m
41cm
7.0m
43cm
7.5m
44cm
8.0m
46cm
8.5m
47cm
9.0m
49cm
9.5m
50cm
10.0m

Also note: The inclusion of level resting platforms sometimes take up less room than a single ramp

For example a single ramp rising 500cm would be a maximum gradient of 1:20 and 10m long

By including a 1.5m level platform at the mid point 25cm high the 2 sections of ramp can have a 1:13.5 gradient which means a length of 3.5m

The total space required would be

3.5m ramp – 1.5m platform – 3.5m ramp = total 8.5m a saving of 1.5m

The below diagram demonstrates that including level platforms actually reduces the total length of ramping required.

By reducing the height for each run of ramp, the gradient (steepness) can be increased resulting in a reduced total length

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