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The Housing Standards Review - Accessibility

The Housing Standards Review Consultation is broken down into 8 sections. So over the next 8 weeks we’ll be publishing an update on the content of each individual section, to help you understand the consequences of the consolation proposals. So this week we’re looking at Accessibility.

Housing Standards Review – Accessibility

The current regulatory requirement for accessibility is Part M, which all new dwellings are required to meet. However, additional standards are currently being imposed by the National Planning Policy Framework which requires that Councils plan for a mix of housing that meets the needs of different groups in the community. These additional standards are Lifetime Homes and the Wheelchair Housing Design Guide, which the Government has highlighted, adds additional cost and complexity to new housing developments.

This section therefore asks:

-          Are additional standards over the requirements of Part M necessary?

-          If so, what should these standards look like?

So what’s the answer to these questions?

Well the consensus seems to be that higher standard of disabled access design will be required to ensure that new housing meets the needs of all parts of the community. A three tiered system is proposed:

Level 1: Part M Building Regulations compliance

Level 2: Similar to Lifetime Homes Standards

Level 3: Wheelchair accessible Properties similar to the requirements of Wheelchair Housing Design Guide

The consultation then looks at how these standards should be applied, with a proposal that each of the standards listed above is applied as a percentage across a new development. For example 5-10% of dwelling would need to be Level 3 compliant. The requirements of each standard would be consistent across the country, but Local Authorities could have the potential to apply these standards in different proportions depending on the demand of their demographic, with the possibility of a cap on the volume of Level 3 properties. The consultation also discusses whether this cap should be higher for affordable housing proposals on the basis that the demand may be higher.

The outcome of this process would be that the requirements of each standard are clear and consistent, making design and costing a more straightforward process. The variation between LPAs would then be from the proportion of each standard required, not from the technical nature of each standard.

So what do you think? Well here’s the original consultation and how to respond:

Next week, we’ll be reviewing the proposals for Space Standards. A contentious topic!

Jon Ponting

Author: Jon Ponting

This article was published by Jon Ponting on 13.09.2013.