26th June 2019 UK
Higher accessibility standards for new housing are to be introduced in the UK as part of a wider plan to make sure disabled people are not facing discrimination.
Prime Minister Theresa May said that it is widely recognising that too many disabled people still live in unsuitable homes and she announced a consultation on mandating higher accessibility standards for new homes.
The aim is to deliver up to 300,000 new accessible and adaptable homes every year and guidance will also be published to help councils meet current standards for accessible housing in England.
‘Every person, whatever their ability or age, must have the opportunity to succeed in life and that means providing new homes that meet the everyday needs of whoever lives in them,’ said Housing Secretary James Brokenshire.
‘However, too many of the homes built in the past have not lived up to this basic promise, which is why we’re looking very closely at strengthening accessibility requirements, including making them mandatory for all new homes,’ he added.
Currently only 7% of homes in England have even the most basic access features, according to Habinteg, which has been campaigning for an increase in the regulatory baseline for all new homes since 2015 when the Government introduced optional access standards into building regulations.
‘We really need all new housing to offer good levels of accessibility and adaptability if we’re to get anywhere near meeting the needs of our whole population. Too many disabled and older people are making do in homes that are just not suitable for them,’ said chief executive officer Sheron Carter.
“We’re not talking about grand designs for every home. The accessible and adaptable standard that will be consulted on is purely an ordinary home with some thoughtful design features that make it easier to get around and more adaptable to the changing needs of households over time,’ she explained.
Habinteg’s recent accessible homes forecast revealed that less than half of all planning authorities have set requirements for new homes to meet higher accessibility standards. Carter pointed out that setting a national policy would not only create a level playing field and more certainty for developers, it would help shift the focus of planning at an authority level to ensure that a sufficient number of new homes are suitable for wheelchair users to live in.
‘We look forward to contributing to the consultation and helping to ensure that the voices and views of disabled people are heard. The positive outcome we hope for would give disabled and older people a better chance of a home that meets their needs, wherever they are in the country,’ she added.