RIBA Calls For Mandatory Accessible Housing

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has called on the government, following a consultation, for the mandating of an accessibility standard in the Building Regulations that is currently only applied by a planning condition.

However, Architects’ Journal reports, RIBA added that there should be exceptions so that developers can fall back on lower-threshold ‘visitable’ dwelling standard in certain circumstances such as on small urban sites.

A government consultation was held recently, forming part of the government’s efforts to develop a National Strategy for Disabled People. The housing secretary Robert Jenrick said that the pandemic how high-quality housing made an ‘important contribution’ to happiness.

For the consultation, respondents were asked to choose from five options for policy change: from merely considering the issue to changing the content of the technical documents guiding housing design.

At the moment, all homes have to conform with M4(1) of the Building Regulations, which sets out minimum standards to ensure people can access and use the dwelling.

Planning authorities can choose to impose the stronger M4(2) standards, to ensure the needs of disabled and older people are met and the dwelling can be adapted as these needs change.

RIBA gave support to mandating the tougher standard but said it would rather see M4(1) remains for use by exception than being scrapped completely.

“There may become situations, including for example locations where the topography is particularly challenging or on small urban sites, where there are insufficient flats to make the installation cost of a lift and/or the ongoing service charges viable,” said the institute.

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