2019 will bring some important announcements for accessible housing policy. We’re anticipating new guidance from the Secretary of State on how Local Authorities should consider the housing needs of disabled and older people when developing their plans. We’re really hoping for strong direction and high expectations for all local plans to make explicit reference to use of accessible housing standards.
Right now the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) are reviewing Part M of building regulations – that’s the volume on access to the built environment, including housing. So we’re looking forward to seeing the proposals that they’ll be putting forward to the minister. As more and more organisations are joining our call for all new homes to be built to Category 2 – that’s the adaptable successor to the Lifetime Homes standard - we really hope to be adding the BRAC committee to the list of supporting voices.
Our consultancy team, Centre for Accessible Environments, report that there is still lots of confusion about the access standards. It would be a fantastic to see the names of the standards amended in the year ahead so that it’s clear that Category 2 is a general flexible adaptable housing design standard, whilst Category 3 is designed to meet the needs of wheelchair users. It’s vital that people understand this, and understand the positive impact that both adaptable and accessible homes can make, both on individual households and on more efficient use of public money in the form of health and social care services.
While we’re looking forward to pushing on all these doors we’re also looking forward to developing new accessible Habinteg homes to enable people who need them to reap all the benefits that a stable, accessible home can bring.