Forecast for accessible homes 2020: Accessible housing in local plans

The need for accessible housing has never been greater. Front cover of Forecast for Accessible Homes 2020For many disabled people the experience of the Covid-19 lockdown was made even more difficult due to the inaccessibility of their homes.  

Data from the English Housing Survey shows that 91% of homes don’t provide the four main features to be considered even ‘visitable’ and Habinteg estimates that over 400,000 wheelchair users are living in homes which are neither adapted nor accessible.

There is a growing consensus that raising accessibility standards for all new homes is a vital step in ensuring that disabled and older people have a greater chance of having a home that meets their needs. 

This briefing shows the results of our analysis of local plans in England conducted between July and October 2020. The findings provide an update on Habinteg’s 2019 Insight report: Forecast for accessible homes. By analysing policies set out in local plans our team have constructed a forecast for the number of new homes that are planned to meet accessible housing standards.

The findings show that 70% of new homes due to be built over the next ten years won’t be required to meet any of the optional access standards to make them accessible and adaptable for the needs of older and disabled people. There is also a wide variation between regions that creates an unfair postcode lottery for people seeking an accessible place to live.

In September 2020, the government launched a consultation on raising accessibility standards for all new homes. As a champion of accessible homes and neighbourhoods for over 50 years Habinteg called for the accessible and adaptable standard to be fixed as the new national regulatory baseline, and for a proportion of all new homes to meet the wheelchair user dwelling standard.

Read the briefing now

Forecast for accessible homes 2020 key findings

  • Overall, there has been a decrease in the total proportion of new homes required to meet accessible housing standards. Plans indicate that between 2020 and 2030 31.5% of new homes in England will be required do so, down from 34.4% in our 2019 forecast.
  • More of the homes due to be built in England are specified to the Optional Access standards set out in Part M4 of building regulations (25% in 2020 compared to 22% in 2019).
  • The proportion of homes due to be suitable for wheelchair users has remained broadly similar, with the picture outside London improving by 0.5% to reach 1.5% of all homes planned over the next decade.
  • The regional variations are still marked. Whilst the South East now includes 15 additional plans specifying use of the Building Regulations M4 standards, in the West Midlands no local plans specify these requirements for new homes due for construction between 2020 and 2030.


We are calling on National Government to:

  • establish M4(2) as the new regulatory baseline following the consultation on raising accessibility standards for new homes, with the additional requirement to supply a proportion of homes meeting wheelchair user dwellings standard
  • set a clear expectation that each Local Planning Authority must set out a policy for a proportion of wheelchair accessible properties to be built within each iteration of their local plan

We are calling on Local Planning Authorities to:

  • be thorough and proactive in planning for the housing needs of older and disabled people, establishing clear requirements for a proportion of all new housing to be built to the Building Regulations optional access standards
  • to specifically name M4(2) and M4(3) standards in their plans with clear percentages of new homes required in each, regardless of whether a regional strategy or plan indicates an overarching requirement or not.

Find out more

  1. Read the briefing: Forecast for Accessible Homes 2020 [pdf] 264KB
  2. See our case studies
  3. See list of local plans analysed (2020) [pdf] 1MB
  4. Read the 2019 Insight report: Forecast for Accessible Homes
  5. Read our news story
  6. MP Briefing - Forecast for Accessible Homes 2020 [pdf] 428KB