Habinteg has partnered with Leeds City Council to develop five bespoke wheelchair accessible bungalows and one accessible house to address the shortage of accessible and adaptable family homes for disabled and older residents, and people with complex physical needs.
The homes, which are across three city sites acquired in March 2018, are:
- Back Lane, Stanningley: 2 x 2 bedroom wheelchair bungalows
- Chatsworth Close, Harehills: 1 x 3 bedroom wheelchair bungalow
- Nesfield Gardens, Belle Isle: 2 x 3 bedroom wheelchair bungalows and 1 x 4 bedroom accessible house.
The kitchens of each home boast bench-mounted sockets to a rise and fall worktop, drop down baskets in the wall units, a pull out tray under side-opening ovens to allow for safe removal of hot items and all sockets in accessible locations.
Bathrooms have spacious level access walk-in shower and bath, strengthened ply walls for grab rail installation as necessary, low pedestal sinks and easy use lever taps.
Other features include a voice operated front door entry system allowing operation from three points within the homes, level access thresholds and low surface temperature radiators.
A cross-council working group was set up to explore potential funding and identify suitable councilowned sites for the development of accessible housing to meet the growing demand in the city.
Following a ring-fenced tender exercise, Habinteg was invited to develop the homes across the three sites to meet the needs of families that had been on the waiting list for accessible housing for some time.
The housing association worked with the Council to ensure that the homes met the necessary accessibility standards and were tailored towards the needs of the families identified.
Habinteg’s experience and ability to design and manage a smaller scale development and their expertise as an accessible social housing developer were deciding factors in the council’s choice of development partner.
The housing association is committed to a long established principle of building 75% of homes to be accessible and adaptable and 25% built to be fully wheelchair accessible.
The five wheelchair bungalows have been built to comply with building regulations M4(3)b standard so that the homes are ready for occupation by a wheelchair user household.
Meanwhile, the four bedroom house has been built to M4(2) accessible and adaptable dwellings standard, which is a flexible and adaptable standard offering enhanced access features and benefits over the lifetime of the home.
Habinteg tenant Rebecca Bootland, who lives in a wheelchair accessible property in Bell Isle with her husband, said:
“It’s been life changing moving into my new accessible home; I’ve got everything I need. Not only can I do normal things like put the washing away, but I can finally access my garden, which I think is really important during these testing times. I feel like I’ve finally got my independence back.”
Matthew Kelly, Head of Development, Habinteg Housing Association, said:
“We’re glad to have had the opportunity to work on this project with a forward thinking authority like Leeds City Council. With the pressures on local authority property services departments to achieve best price for land disposals, it can often prevent the development of larger single storey wheelchair accessible dwellings such as these, which are in great demand.
“The project will result in direct cost savings by removing the need for unsuitable temporary accommodation. We’d like to thank Leeds City Council for its wider cross departmental support, which allowed us to make person-specific alterations during the build.”
Councillor Debra Coupar, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Communities, said:
“Homes like these will improve the quality of life for people with specific needs, and ensuring homes that are accessible are being built in Leeds is important to us.
“They reduce costs from property adaptations, and there are wider societal benefits such as reduced pressure on welfare and care budgets and facilitating independent living, which will support disabled people into employment and help reduce pressures such as bed-blocking.
“Making sure we deliver quality homes for everyone is part of the Council’s ambition to be a ‘Compassionate City’. I’m glad the Council was able to offer financial support to this significant project.”
Notes to editor
- The Government’s new higher accessible housing standards, Part M (4) Category 2 and 3 feature in the building regulations as optional standards since October 2015.
- https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/access-to-and-use-of-buildings-approveddocument- m - There is a significant shortage of accessible homes in the UK. The latest English Housing Survey 2018-19: Accessibility of English homes shows that just 9% of homes meet basic accessibility features.
- There are 1.8 million disabled people with an accessible housing need with around 300,000 disabled adults having an unmet accessible housing need. At least 1 in 6 households with an identified need do not have all the accessibility features they need (300,000 households, including 140,000 working age households). (Hidden Housing Market report, 2016). However, these figures do not include families with disabled children and rely on self-reporting of accessibility and mobility needs, which often underestimate the number, so they should be taken as a bare minimum indicator of the true scale of need.
- The EHRCs Being disabled in Britain report published in 2017, reported on a shortage of accessible housing across Britain. Of the councils in England with a housing plan fewer than 17% of councils have set out strategies to build disabled friendly homes.
- The Government has an ambitious target of building 1 million new homes this year. If all these new homes were built to Part M (4) Category 2 or 3 the percentage of accessible housing stock would rise to almost 11%.
- Approximately 1.2m hospital bed days lost due to ‘delayed discharge’ of people from acute hospitals in 2015, which is up 31% in two years. The estimated cost to the NHS is £820m a year.
Since 1970, our thoughtful designs have enabled tenants to achieve and sustain independent living. Habinteg has over 3,300 homes across 86 local authorities. One in three of our properties are designed specifically for wheelchair users, and the majority of our homes are built to an accessible or adaptable standard.
Habinteg wants communities to include disabled people and offer places to live that meet their needs, supporting them with the highest levels of independence, choice and control over daily life. We champion inclusion by providing and promoting accessible homes and neighbourhoods that welcome and include everyone, using our expert knowledge to inspire and influence decision makers. www.habinteg.org.uk
About Leeds City Council
Leeds City Council delivers over 500 different services to residents and is dedicated to bringing the benefits of a prosperous, vibrant and attractive city to the people of Leeds. The Council has social housing stock of over 54,000 properties. More than 760,000 people live within the city boundaries and over 100,000 people come to work in the city centre every day. This makes Leeds the second largest metropolitan district in England, with covering an area of 552 square kilometres. It is the regional capital of Yorkshire and the Humber and is home to more than 75 different nationalities.