Homes with fewer steps, wider corridors and easier access for wheelchairs are being suggested in a consultation paper released yesterday.
The government estimates the number of people in England over 85 will nearly double to 3 million by mid-2043.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: “It’s vital we start building more accessible housing for older and disabled people now. People are living longer lives and the proportion of older people in the population is increasing.”
Currently, all new homes must meet minimum standards for entry access with level thresholds and door and corridor widths of a minimum measurement. Easy access to toilets and light controls are also required.
Raising accessibility standards for new homes looks at five possible options one of which is increasing the minimum standards to M4 (2) building regulations. These require homes to offer better access to circulation spaces and bathrooms and which are easily adaptable for wheelchair use.
More spacious corridors could lead to lower densities on site
Many local councils already apply this standard, for example, the London plan has adopted it. However, this has thrown up profitability issues if building homes with wider corridors means fewer properties are built.
“Planners need to strike an appropriate balance between requiring high standards in new housing on one hand, and the potential effect on the viability of developments on the other which may reduce the amount of new housing,” said the consultation document.
The National Federation of Builders said it supported any move to make new homes better suited to older people with mobility problems providing the changes weren’t too prescriptive.
NFB housing and planning policy head Rico Wojtulewicz said: “The more homes that are accessible the better. We will be surveying all our members to identify any of their concerns about the proposals.”
Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said property development lenders would like changes to consider economic factors for SME builders and give them flexibility. For example, this could include, building homes closer to site borders to maintain density levels.
Consultation on Raising accessibility standards for new homes will close on December 1, 2020.
Centre for Ageing Better research in February 2019, found nearly four quarters of 4,000 UK people polled agreed homes should be built to be suitable for people of all ages and abilities.