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Lifetime Homes Strategy

The Construction comments on the Lifetime Homes Strategy

The Government this week published a new strategy for housing guidelines which help to accommodate the needs of the elderly and is to be woven into the existing policy; the Code for Sustainable Homes. The strategy has been hailed as the first of its kind in the world and The Construction Centre today commented on how it might affect the UK’s already new build industry.

The Lifetime Homes report sets out a plan to ensure new homes are built with the elderly in mind. It is estimated that by 2026 nearly half of all new homes required will be for elderly people. The report seeks to include mandatory features within a property which will enable people to remain in their homes for longer and promote independence for the aged. In essence there are sixteen aspects which will affect how a house is built for example wider doors, staircases and hallways so that wheelchair access is easier and any other adaptations such as stair lifts can be implemented. By 2011 all social housing will incorporate these new standards and by 2013 a decision on regulations will be made for the private sector.

The Construction Centre commented that the aims of the Lifetime Homes report were commendable however it was concerned that the changes would not be welcomed by the private sector developers. Space in any development is always a valuable commodity and The Construction Centre highlighted the possible negative effect the changes could have in terms of how buyers might perceive the size of the property and therefore its value.

Richard Simmons Managing Director of the Construction Centre said “The building industry has barely got its head around the Code for Sustainable Homes before the government are looking at additional regulations which will only serve to squeeze the profitability potential for developers. However despite this I do believe the policy is forward thinking and if we are to successfully plan for the future, adapting to climate change, changing lifestyles and our life expectancy have to be taken into account.”

Housing Minister Caroline Flint who announced the new strategy stated “Meeting the needs of an ageing population is one of the major challenges we are facing as a society. But whilst it’s a big challenge, even a small change or adaptation to a home can transform an older person’s life.”

The policy has also been welcomed by support groups as a proactive step by the government to recognise society is changing and part of the policy also covers how localities might also improve to accommodate the elderly living independently. Paul Cann, Director of policy at Help the Aged commented “The promise to build new houses to “lifetime homes” standards will mean there is more appropriate housing for people of all ages in the future.”

The Construction added that it would like to see the lifetime homes regulations implemented as part of the Code for Sustainable Homes in order to present clear protocols to the building industry. However it reiterated that as yet the Code for Sustainable homes has not been widely adopted by private sector developers. The Construction Centre said it believed there was a long way for the government to go before the building industry welcomes and adapts to these changes.

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