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Column 27th November 2019

Designing in access for lifetime with all our latest housing

One of the terms used by planners is Lifetime Homes, but what does it really mean?

Lifetime Homes are ordinary homes designed to incorporate 16 Design Criteria developed in the 1990’s.

Each design feature adds to the comfort and convenience of the home and supports the changing needs of individuals and families at different stages of life.

These features include things like:

  • A wider parking space (at least 3.3 metres wide). This improves access to and from a vehicle for a wide range of people – for example parents with young children and buggies, people with shopping or luggage, and wheelchair users.
  • The width of all doorways, and their approaches, should be adequate for a wheelchair user to approach the doorway, open the door, and pass through it.
  • All homes should have a wheelchair accessible WC on the entrance level and drainage available for an accessible shower if required.
  • Entrances should be lit, have level access with no steps, and should be covered to provide some weather protection.

OK it all sounds like common sense, but most of us live in homes which were built long before these design criteria were invented and may not have a parking place at all, never mind one nearly eleven feet wide.

Most of us don’t have a downstairs WC and might skin our knuckles trying to get a wheelchair through our doorways.

But what about new homes?

Building Regulations 2010 require (as a minimum) a new dwelling to make reasonable provision for most people, including wheelchair users, to approach and enter the dwelling and to access and use the facilities.

Our Local Plan states that one and two bedroom market homes, and all affordable housing, will need to ensure they meet minimum space standards but doesn’t refer to the Building Regulations.

It also states that on all sites with 10 or more homes, 15% of market dwellings and all affordable housing should incorporate features that make it potentially suitable for a wide range of occupants, including older people, those with reduced mobility and some wheelchair users.

For sites of 100 units or more, 5% of affordable housing and 2% of market housing should have reasonable provision, either at completion or at a point following completion, for a wheelchair user to live in the dwelling and use any associated private outdoor space, parking and communal facilities.

So, in theory, there should be some new homes designed for a lifetime.


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