Government ‘Should Strengthen Legislation On Accessible Homes’

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has responded to a government consultation about accessible homes in the UK, stressing that legislation relating to the construction of accessible homes should be strengthened.

Architects’ Journal reported on the stance being taken by RIBA, explaining that the organisation has recommended that the M4(2) Building Regulations that ensure the needs of disabled and older people are met through new homes should be the default for all new residential construction, rather than the M4(1) standards generally applied at present.

However, RIBA does not believe that M4(1) should be removed from Building Regulations, rather that this should be retained as the exception. M4(1) sets out the minimum standards that ensure people can access and use a dwelling.

The institute acknowledged that there may be certain situations, particularly small urban sites or locations with challenging topography, where the M4(2) standards would not be viable for developers.

Alan Jones, RIBA president, told the publication that the housing stock in England “is simply not suitable for our ageing or disabled population”.

He added: “We need accessible homes built to nationally described space standards to meet the needs of our population. Our Building Regulations must be amended now to ensure all new housing is fit for future generations.”

For many, of course, it is a case of adapting existing properties to make them suitable for their needs. This could include introducing a walk-in shower bath combo, for instance, or an easy access toilet.

As we recently pointed out, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issues surrounding unfit housing stock, with as many as 9.5 million people in the UK currently living in homes that have significant issues.

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