- Proposals from housing developers to relax planning rules would exacerbate the UK’s existing shortage of homes that are safe and suitable for older and disabled people, leading housing, ageing and disability charities warn.
- By 2030, there will be just one new accessible home built for every 15 people over the age of 65, despite the fact that the UK is undergoing a massive demographic age shift. Looser planning rules would make this shortage more acute, the organisations say.
- The Housing Made for Everyone (HoME) coalition is calling on housing developers to build more homes suitable for all ages, with research showing that most people want to remain in their homes as they get older.
Today, the Housing Made for Everyone (HoME) coalition is calling for the government to resist calls to relax planning regulations, warning that this would lead to an even greater shortage of accessible housing across the country.
The Housing Made for Everyone (HoME) coalition, comprised of the Centre for Ageing Better, Habinteg Housing, Age UK, RIBA, Care & Repair England, Disability Rights UK, Housing LIN, the National Housing Federation, the Chartered Institute of Housing and the Town and Country Planning Association, is responding to developers’ calls for looser regulations in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
In an open letter to the Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher, the HoME coalition says that the coronavirus crisis has shone a light on the importance of people having homes that are suitable for their needs, with many having spent lock down stuck in houses that are inaccessible and therefore hazardous to their health and wellbeing.
Current plans show that by 2030, there will be just one new accessible home built for every 15 people over the age of 65, despite the fact that it is widely known that the UK is undergoing a massive demographic age shift. Figures suggest there are already 1.8m people with an accessible housing need – and this number is only going to grow.
The coalition warns that disruption caused by the crisis and the eagerness of developers to get back to work must not be allowed to jeopardise moves to deliver new homes that are accessible, with the government repeatedly committing to consulting on accessibility standards before the crisis hit.
The HoME coalition is calling on the UK government to establish the ‘accessible and adaptable’ design standard, set out in Building Regulations M4 Category 2, as the regulatory baseline for all new homes.
50 -year-old Daniel Slade – who has needed to use a wheelchair following an accident - has been living in an elderly care home due to the lack of accessible housing. He is backing the coalition’s calls and said:
“Most of the other residents in my care home are between my parents’ and grandparents’ age, but at 50 I should still be living independently. I was an adventurous person before my accident which led me to my disability and I feel like each day in here is draining my morale from me. To make matters worse, since lockdown, I haven’t been able to leave the care home, even for hospital appointments and have been told I have been given notice to leave with nowhere to go. It’s a shame that the only thing stopping me from living my life to its full potential is the lack of accessible housing in my area. This needs to change so myself and people in similar situations to me can begin to live our lives again, I have already lost three years of my life waiting for a suitable home and have been told today it could still be years.”
Sheron Carter, Chief Executive, Habinteg said:
“Throughout lockdown we have heard from disabled people how the accessibility of their homes has been a ‘make or break’ factor, either supporting their wellbeing or severely restricting their independence.
“Meanwhile many non-disabled people have experienced for the first time the limitations on getting out and about that many disabled people have to tolerate in their everyday lives.
“It’s no longer acceptable to knowingly build homes that have in-built barriers and restrictions for disabled and older people. As we emerge from this crisis as a nation it’s time for a change, we have to build better.”
Anna Dixon, Chief Executive, Centre for Ageing Better said:
“Lack of accessible housing is a major problem in the UK, and we must not let the disruption of the COVID-19 crisis distract the government from its mission to build more suitable homes.
“It is understandable that developers are keen to get back to work quickly but planning restrictions must not be relaxed. We otherwise risk having even more people living in houses that are unsuitable for their needs. The houses we build today will be with us for decades to come, so it is vital we build for the future – a future in which more of us will live to older ages.”
You can read the full letter here.