Responding to Theresa May’s announcement of a new consultation on the accessibility of new homes released on 25 June, Sheron Carter, CEO of Habinteg said:
“We are extremely pleased that the Prime Minister has announced this important consultation on improving the accessibility of all new homes. Currently only 7% of homes in England have even the most basic access features so we really need all new housing to offer good levels of accessibility and adaptability if we’re to get anywhere near meeting the needs of our whole population. Too many disabled and older people are making do in homes that are just not suitable for them.
“We’re not talking about grand designs for every home. The ‘accessible and adaptable’ standard that will be consulted on is purely an ordinary home with some thoughtful design features that make it easier to get around and more adaptable to the changing needs of households over time.
“Our recent accessible homes forecast revealed that less than half of all planning authorities have set requirements for new homes to meet higher accessibility standards. Setting a national policy would not only create a level playing field and more certainty for developers, it would help shift the focus of planning at an authority level to ensure that a sufficient number of new homes are suitable for wheelchair users to live in.
We look forward to contributing to the consultation and helping to ensure that the voices and views of disabled people are heard. The positive outcome we hope for would give disabled and older people a better chance of a home that meets their needs, wherever they are in the country.”
Habinteg have been campaigning to increase the regulatory baseline for all new homes to the accessible adaptable standard since 2015 when the government introduced ‘optional access standards’ into building regulations. The organisation’s recent Insight report showed that only 43% of local plans contained specific requirements to deliver any new homes to the optional standards, with forecast of just 23% of new homes outside London to be built to accessible standards by 2030.
The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, Justin Tomlinson said:
"Alongside this, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will consult on raising mandatory accessibility standards for all new homes in Autumn" Read his full statement here.
For more information contact:
- Mohsin Sufi – Media & Communications Officer – 020 8722 8767 / 05781 952 041
- Christina McGill – Head of Communications – 202 8769 4442 / 07740 371 330
Notes to editor:
- On 25 June 2019 government announced a consultation on raising the minimum accessibility standard of all new homes as part of a ‘new drive to tackle barriers faced by disabled people’. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pm-launches-new-drive-to-tackle-barriers-faced-by-disabled-people)
- Habinteg is able to provide case studies of disabled people who have been affected by inaccessible housing please contact us for more details
- Local plans set policies for new developments, and they are the way that the government expect to see accessible housing introduced. In 2015 the government introduced optional access standards through Building Regulations which local planning authorities should use to set their policies. The optional standards are:
- M4 (2) Category 2 ‘Accessible, adaptable’, which provides basic access and adaptability similar to the Lifetime Homes Standard, benefiting to all households over the lifetime of the home.
- M4 (3) Category 3 ‘Wheelchair user dwellings’, broadly equivalent to Habinteg’s Wheelchair Housing Design Guide.
- Habinteg’s Insight report, A Forecast for Accessible Homes assessed all 322 local plans from local planning authorities across England. Researchers identified and analysed data available in published local plans relating to planning policies for accessible homes and used the data to estimate the trajectory for delivery of accessible housing in the eleven years 2019-2030.
Habinteg is a leading national provider of affordable accessible homes and support services. We champion inclusion by providing sustainable neighbourhoods of Lifetime Homes and wheelchair standard properties for disabled and non-disabled people to share and enjoy. We use our expertise to challenge negative social attitudes, promote the rights of disabled people and improve accessibility standards within housing.
Since 1970, our thoughtful designs and on-site support 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 the remaining homes have been built to an accessible or Lifetime Homes Standard.