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front cover lifetime home design guide

For Professionals

Policy and Regulation

In England, the Greater London Authority has led the way since the 2004 London Plan, by requiring that new homes (including  houses and flats of varying sizes in both the public and private sectors) adopt the Lifetime Homes Standard.

The Interim London Housing Design Guide, developed on behalf of the Mayor by the London Development Agency, has integrated the Lifetime Homes design criteria into its guidance on general needs housing.

In Wales and Northern Ireland, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive require the Lifetime Homes Standard in their funded developments. Developers building to the Code for Sustainable Homes can obtain four credits within the 'Health and Well-being' section by meeting the Lifetime Homes requirements.

The Lifetime Homes Standard is generally higher than that required by Part M of the Building Regulations (which deals with accessibility), although some elements of Part M are equal to the Lifetime Homes requirements or need relatively minor changes to comply.

Go to the Lifetime Homes and Part M comparison for more detailed information.

Some Lifetime Homes features need to be in place from the start, while others, the requirement is provision for future adaptations. For example, the shower provision means that there should be drainage for a future accessible shower, if and when one is required. It does not mean that a sloping floor, waterproof finish or shower equipment have to be initially provided.

Access Statements are now an essential part of planning applications. To ensure local authority access needs for housing are met, Lifetime Home designs should be considered as early as possible in the planning process. Pre-application discussions with local authority Access Officers can be very helpful to designers and developers and should speed up the whole process.

The design of Lifetime Homes makes it easy for wheelchair users to visit the property, but does not necessarily provide full wheelchair access throughout the home.  Accessibility for wheelchair users within the household can be increased by utilising some of the cost-effective adaptability criteria built in from the outset, but space and access will not match wheelchair housing standards and some degree of compromise will be required by a member of the household who uses a wheelchair.  

There is a need for many more wheelchair accessible homes, both private and public funded. It is therefore important that Lifetime Homes are not seen as the whole solution and that policies ensure that wheelchair accessible homes are developed as well. The Greater London Authority policy is that 10% of all new homes should be built to wheelchair accessible standards. Habinteg wants to see this adopted throughout the country.