Government launches “long-awaited” consultation on accessible housing for older and disabled people
The Housing Secretary The Right Hon. Robert Jenrick has announced the launch of a UK Government consultation to make all new homes accessible to disabled and older people.
Launched as part of the government’s Affordable Homes Programme, the announcement comes as the latest English Housing Survey revealed that only nine percent of housing stock in England have key accessibility features to deem them ‘visitable’ for a disabled person.
Currently, the existing minimum standard for accessible housing in England requires four main criteria that make it accessible for most people, including wheelchair users: level access to the main entrance, a flush threshold, sufficiently wide doorways and circulation space, and a toilet at entrance level.
This applies as the minimum for all new build homes. Additionally, where there is a material alteration to a building’s access, the building cannot be made less compliant than it was.
Now, the UK Government is consulting on views on how to raise accessible housing standards further, including the option to raise this minimum standard for all new homes. A higher minimum standard would require additional features including having a living area at entrance level and step-free access to all entrance level rooms and facilities, wider doorways and corridors as well as clear access routes to reach windows.
It would also include further features to make homes more easily adaptable over time to a wide range of occupants, including older people, those with reduced mobility and some wheelchair users, for example sanitary provisions that can be adapted easily for installation of grab rails and stairs designed to allow easy fit of a stairlift.
Responding to the new government consultation, Sheron Carter, Habinteg CEO, said: “We are very pleased that the Government have launched the long awaited consultation on the accessibility of new homes. Habinteg has been campaigning on this topic for a long time and we are really glad the Government has now listened to disabled people and is taking action on this vital issue.
“This consultation is a critical opportunity to kick start a new age for accessible homes which will be widely welcomed by disabled and older people. We are eager to seeing the detail of the consultation and we will strongly recommend that the accessible and adaptable standard set down in Building Regulations M4 (Category 2) be established as the regulatory baseline for all new homes.
“We look forward to engaging with the consultation process and strongly encourage all individuals and organisations that care about housing accessibility to join us in doing so.”
With over 3,300 homes across 86 local authorities, Habinteg is a leading national provider of affordable accessible homes and support services.