Following on from our previous article, which reviewed the key proposals in the ‘Planning for the future’ white paper, we look at the latest consultation ‘Raising accessibility standards for new homes’.
Raising accessibility standards for new homes
This consultation considers how to raise accessibility standards and fundamentally, recognises the vital importance of suitable homes older people and individuals living with disabilities.
The consultation will last for 12 weeks, running from the 8th September – 1st December 2020.
Unlike the Planning for the future white paper, this consultation recognises the need for new homes that meet the needs of ‘everyone’, from first-time buyers, to people living with disabilities to older people; all of whom wish to live independently and comfortably in their own home.
Accessibility of new homes
As previously discussed in previous articles, new homes often fail to meet the accessibility standards needed by many people in the UK.
This consultation, if successful will ensure all new developments meet at the very least, the ‘category 2’ standard for accessibility. This would mean that all new developments must be accessible to most people, including the elderly, those with reduced mobility and those who require a wheelchair.
The new requirements are broadly equivalent to the ‘Lifetime Homes Standard’ and would include level access, an entrance level bed space, entrance level living space and circulation space for wheelchair users.
Changing the regulations to ensure that all new homes met the category 2 requirement will come at an estimated additional cost of £311m per annum across a 10-year appraisal period. The majority of this, would fall on developers.
The benefits of accessible homes
As discussed in previous articles, it is vitally important that accessible homes are readily available. The impact of inaccessible housing is widespread, from the individual themselves, their family, carers, occupational therapists, hospital’s and care facilities. As services become more and more stretched, they are coming under increasing pressure to discharge patients quickly but are unable to, due to inadequate housing.
An accessible home can transform a person’s life, allowing them to live independently, remain in employment or education, and also continue with rehabilitation if required.
It is vital, in an ageing population, and with the numbers of those living with disabilities increases, that we start building accessible homes to create a society where everyone can truly live as independent and comfortable a life as possible.
"It's vital we start building more accessible housing for older and disabled people now…People are living longer lives and the proportion of older people in the population is increasing."
Robert Jenrick, Housing secretary.
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