Minimum accessibility standard for new homes raised

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have opted to raise the minimum accessibility standard for new homes in England, with new homes now needing to include step-free access to all entry-level rooms and other mobility-friendly features following the outcome of a government consultation on accessibility standards.

Property Reporter
1st August 2022
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Consultation participants also had the option of remaining with the existing framework for accessible housing or reconsidering the way existing standards are applied.

Presently, new homes are required to meet the basic standard for accessibility, named “Category 1”. This includes four main requirements to make homes accessible and “visitable” for most people, including wheelchair users. Examples comprise level access to the main entrance and sufficiently wide doorways and circulation space.

The raising of requirements means that Category 1 will apply only in exceptional circumstances. Sites vulnerable to flooding and new build flats above garages may be exempt, due to the practicalities of offering step-free access.

DLUHC said that out of more than 400 consultation responses, 98% had supported the proposal to raise new homes’ accessibility standards.

A second consultation will follow in “due course”, covering the detail of the regulatory changes. The regulations are supported by statutory guidance in Approved Document M: Access to and use of buildings.

Currently, local authorities can choose to apply the raised standard through local planning policies.

Eddie Hughes, minister for rough sleeping and housing, said: “Older and disabled people must have homes which are suitable for their needs and allow them to live comfortably and independently.

“This consultation has made clear raising the accessibility standard of new homes is supported not just by people who use accessible homes, but by industry and wider stakeholders as well.

“With that mandate, we are forging ahead with the next steps to make this a reality.”

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