Policy changes to accessible housing standards across England ‘optional’

Important policy changes to accessible housing standards across England came into force on 1 October 2015.

While the new accessibility standards will be included into the Building Regulations, there are concerns about adoption as the government’s new standards are optional.

In effect to comply with the new regulations, a housing provider need do nothing more than comply with the old ‘Part M’.  This seems very short-sighted, as there is a lot to be gained from creating homes that are more accessible to all.

Housing Association Habinteg specialise in the provision of wheelchair accessible homes and have written a briefing document for the Housing LIN giving seven points about the latest standards.

This briefing makes the case for an increase in accessible housing, with an approach that acknowledges the benefits and savings available when building to higher access standards.

Some of the suggested benefits include reducing the number of accidents in the home, reducing the time required in hospital and enabling people to live in their own homes for as long as possible, without having to be moved into residential care.

According to HabintExtracteg, one week in a residential care home can cost up to £550, yet increasing the specification of a home to meet Lifetime Homes standards would likely more than offset this cost.

There are calls to make it mandatory to provide homes to the new Category 2 (Lifetime Homes similar), something that would appear to be common sense when overall costs and actual value are taken into consideration.

At Living Space Architects we endeavour to design all our projects to Lifetime Homes standards.  We believe it not only benefits older people and those with disabilities, but also creates homes that are better for all of us to live in.  This can give improvements not only for health, but overall well-being and enjoyment of life.

We hope that the government will be brave enough to review the standards, so that we have support in giving clients the best design solutions and providing long term improvements for communities.

Read Habintegs briefing for Housing LIN here: www.housinglin.org.uk/Design