Policy: HSG8 Accessible and Adaptable Homes

Open22 Jan, 2024, 10:00am - 4 Mar, 2024, 11:59pm

Policy HSG8:  Accessible and adaptable dwellings

All new dwellings will meet Building Regulations requirement M4(2) ‘accessible and adaptable dwellings’ or M4(3) ‘wheelchair user dwellings’.

For some schemes it may be impractical and/or unviable to provide the step free access required across the whole development. In such cases, robust evidence will be needed to justify that exceptional circumstances apply.

On sites of 30 new dwellings or more, at least 3% of dwellings will meet Building Regulations M4(3).

10.59 The requirement for new homes to be built to advanced accessibility standards will lead to the creation of ‘Lifetime Homes’ that contribute to building mixed communities and make the housing stock more responsive to local residents’ needs throughout their lifetime. This includes providing easy access for pushchairs for families with young children, or aids for those with temporary or permanent disabilities. In light of the borough’s ageing population, and the incidence of disability increasing with age, it will enable residents to live independently in their own homes for longer. This has been shown to reduce the need for social care and deliver improved health outcomes.
10.60 The split between market and affordable M4(3) dwellings will be in line with the overall tenure split of the development, unless there is overriding evidence that this would not meet the needs on the Housing Registers.
10.61 In accordance with national planning guidance, where wheelchair user dwellings are provided in market homes these will be ‘wheelchair adaptable’ (M4(3)(2)(a). In homes where the council is responsible for allocating or nominating an individual, the homes will be ‘wheelchair accessible’ (M4(3)(2)(b)) subject to the level of need shown on the council’s Housing Registers.
10.62 M4(3) dwellings should be distributed throughout the development to provide a range of locations, aspects and units sizes. Within flatted development, if any access route is shared between dwellings with different accessibility requirements, the highest requirement should be applied to ensure access to communal areas and neighbouring properties.
10.63 Where the 3% M4(3) requirement would result in a fraction of a wheelchair user dwelling, provision should be to the nearest whole dwelling.

In exceptional circumstances, the council may be required to consider exemptions to the requirement for M4(2) and M4(3) dwellings. In such cases, robust evidence will be required that any of the following circumstances apply which make the requirement impractical or unviable:

  • The physical characteristics of the site, including its topography, gradient or vulnerability to flooding;
  • Step free access cannot be gained;
  • It would make the scheme unviable.
10.65 The government may bring forward a requirement for 100% M4(2) dwellings and updated Building Regulations/statutory guidance to describe the circumstances where M4(1) is acceptable. This will supersede the circumstances listed in paragraph 10.64.
10.66 Where exemptions are allowed, the minimum number of dwellings necessary will be exempted. Where there is a requirement for M4(3) dwellings on the site and scope to provide any M4(2) or M4(3) dwellings, the M4(3) dwellings will take priority.
10.67 For some flatted developments, the need for a lift to enable the requirement of step free access may make the scheme unviable. Where this can be demonstrated, the ground floor dwellings will still meet Building Regulations requirement M4(2) or M4(3).
Implementation and Monitoring

The policy will be implemented through:

  • Decisions on planning applications.

The policy will be monitored against:

  • Number of new homes built to M4(1), M4(2) and M4(3) standard.