accessible housing LGA

The Housing Made for Everyone (HoME) coalition is calling on the government to resist appeals to relax planning regulations, warning it could lead to an even greater shortage of accessible housing across the country.

The call comes as proposals from housing developers for looser regulations and relaxed planning rules have been put forward to the government in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

According to the coalition, which comprises of ten organisations from the housing and charities sectors, the relaxation would exacerbate the UK’s existing shortage of safe and suitable homes for older and disabled people.

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Current plans show that by 2030, there will be just one new accessible home built for every 15 people over the age of 65 despite the UK’s continuing significant demographic age shift, stresses the coalition.

Figures suggest there are already 1.8m people with an accessible housing need – a number set to grow.

The coalition warns that disruption caused by the crisis and the eagerness of developers to get back to work must not be allowed to jeopardise moves to deliver new homes that are accessible, with the government repeatedly committing to consulting on accessibility standards before the crisis hit.

“Lack of accessible housing is a major problem in the UK, and we must not let the disruption of the COVID-19 crisis distract the government from its mission to build more suitable homes,” comments Anna Dixon, Chief Executive, Centre for Ageing Better.

“It is understandable that developers are keen to get back to work quickly but planning restrictions must not be relaxed. We otherwise risk having even more people living in houses that are unsuitable for their needs. The houses we build today will be with us for decades to come, so it is vital we build for the future – a future in which more of us will live to older ages.”

In an open letter to Christopher Pincher, the Housing Minister, the HoME coalition says that the coronavirus crisis has shone a light on the importance of people having homes that are suitable for their needs, with many having spent lockdown stuck in houses that are inaccessible and therefore hazardous to their health and wellbeing.

“Throughout lockdown, we have heard from disabled people how the accessibility of their homes has been a ‘make or break’ factor, either supporting their wellbeing or severely restricting their independence,” explains Sheron Carter, Chief Executive of Habinteg.

“Meanwhile, many non-disabled people have experienced for the first time the limitations on getting out and about that many disabled people have to tolerate in their everyday lives.

“It’s no longer acceptable to knowingly build homes that have in-built barriers and restrictions for disabled and older people. As we emerge from this crisis as a nation it’s time for a change, we have to build better.”

The HoME coalition is calling on the UK government to establish the ‘accessible and adaptable’ design standard, set out in Building Regulations M4 Category 2, as the regulatory baseline for all new homes.

Launched last year, HoME is a coalition of ten organisations calling for urgent action to tackle the UK’s acute and growing shortage of accessible homes.

The coalition is comprised of the Centre for Ageing Better, Habinteg Housing, Age UK, RIBA, Care & Repair England, Disability Rights UK, Housing LIN, the National Housing Federation, the Chartered Institute of Housing and the Town and Country Planning Association.

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