Habinteg and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) have launched an innovative online toolkit to help make accessible housing a national priority.
This interactive resource – Towards Accessible Housing – a toolkit for planning policy – was designed in response to the implementation of the Building Regulations in October 2015. However, these standards are merely optional with a default access standard that is insufficient for most disabled people and inflexible for a wide range of households.
This resource offers practical support to inform local authorities’ planning policy on access and to ensure homes and communities are inclusive for all. It will help planners and local authorities understand the implications of the new housing standards, support accessibility within planning, and ensure an increased supply of accessible homes. There is a significant nationwide shortage of accessible homes which, without decisive action, will grow as the population ages.
Habinteg Chief Executive Paul Gamble said:
“In the Government’s review of housing standards impact assessment it was estimated that 31% of new homes were being built to the Lifetime Homes Standard, expected to rise to 45% by 2024, if there was no change to standards. So we know that an increase to the supply of accessible homes to at least this level is essential, if the changes to standards are not to go down in history as a backwards step.
“We hope that our toolkit is a useful addition to the resources available to planners making crucial decisions for the future. With the baton handed to local authorities and planners to ensure that their local housing investment will meet needs long into the future, it’s critical that planning teams are given the tools and support to assess long-term need and viability as the population ages”.
Habinteg and the TCPA bring together a wealth of experience from the accessible housing and planning sectors. Working together to make the case for homes and places that inclusively meet the needs of a wide range of people, both organisations are committed to working with local authorities and other stakeholders to meet these aspirations.
TCPA Head of Policy Dr Hugh Ellis said:
“Planning should be about place making for everyone, creating local environments and housing which meet people’s needs over the long term. Central to this ambition is accessible housing.
“This toolkit makes a vital contribution to the core goal of people focused planning and is essential reading for plan makers and those in development management.”
Local Authorities will be required to decide on financial viability and future local need of new housing, and planners are at the coalface when it comes to addressing the housing crisis. Habinteg and the TCPA are urging planners to consider wider factors than the profits of developers in approving new housing schemes. For example, the long term savings to health and social care budgets gained by building to accessible, adaptable standards must be reflected in viability assessments for new housing strategies and developments
The planning toolkit is available from the Habinteg website www.habinteg.org.uk/tah-toolkit. New information will be uploaded regularly and feedback from planners is welcomed.