Adaptable housing partnership builds six accessible homes for elderly and disabled people
Housing association 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 showers and baths, 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.
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.”
A cross-council working group was set up to explore potential funding and identify suitable council-owned 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 Leeds City 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 its expertise as an accessible social housing developer were deciding factors in the council’s choice of development partner.
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.”
The housing association is committed to a long-established principle of building 75 percent of homes to be accessible and adaptable and 25 percent 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.
Matthew Kelly, Head of Development, Habinteg Housing Association, commented: “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.”
In July 2020, Habinteg joined forces with the Centre for Ageing Better to call on the UK Government to focus on the quality of housing in England, as new figures showed that elderly and disabled people face inequalities when it comes to adequately heated and accessible homes.
The call for more accessible housing in England came after new data from the English Housing Survey for 2018-2019 revealed that only 16 percent of wheelchair users live in an accessible home, with just 57 percent of wheelchair users are living in adapted homes altogether.