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National Consultation on Housing Standards Review 2013 and 2014

Background to the Consultation and Responses on behalf of DESUIF and GAP:

We have just completed the second final stage of the "Housing Standards Review" Public Consultation (7 November 2014) on the proposals for the changes to Building Regulations around housing standards in 2015. The updated Building Regulations are expected to be published in Spring 2015. Although there has been a reasonable period allowed for review of the consultation documents since September 2014, due to unforeseen circumstances there has not been an opportunity to consult locally with GAP or DESUIF members and service users on this occasion.

Our responses to this latest consultation have therefore been prepared on the basis of our technical knowledge and experience of the application of the existing housing standards, experience in practice for past projects and home adaptations, as well as our consultation last year with service users in relation to the previous consultation (Aug-Oct 2013). Also due to the size, complexity, and recognition of the importance of this latest "Technical Consultation" to our future local and national housing developments, our responses in some instances were further informed by our collaboration with members of other national bodies and organisations working in related fields including the Access Association and by reports by Habinteg on their review on the proposed "Access" Standards ( http://www.habinteg.org.uk/main.cfm?type=POLICYRESPONSE ). Habinteg are a Housing Association that has been a lead organisation nationally in championing the design of accessible homes, and the publication of national guidance on such as Lifetime Homes, Wheelchair Housing, and Housing for People with Sight Loss.

Consultation Proposals:

The individual “optional” and “mandatory” building regulations requirements are described in the proposed draft versions of the Approved Documents which were published along with the Technical Consultation document. These cover: access, security, and water efficiency, as well as a nationally described standard document setting out space standards.

The intention is to introduce a 3-tier standard for accessibility into the Building Regulations Part M ( to which the Approved Document M applies) for individual and communal dwellings, with:

Category 1 – for visitable dwellings: a mandatory baseline setting minimum requirement for access to and use of buildings;

Category 2 – for accessible and adaptable dwellings: an intermediate optional requirement for accessible and adaptable homes;

Category 3 – for wheelchair user dwellings: an optional requirement for wheelchair accessible or adaptable housing.

 

The optional requirements will apply only where they are a requirement of a local authority's approved "Local Plan", and are set as a condition of planning permission. Only one level of requirement will apply to any given dwelling at a time – so that where one of the optional requirements applies, other requirements will effectively be ‘switched off’.

The intention initially of the Government is for the current technical requirements of Part M to not change, but to be reformatted in the form of Category 1, to be compatible with the new proposed optional guidance for Category 2 and 3 dwellings.

In addition, this consultation also includes changes to guidance contained in Approved Document H on external waste storage. "The Government is committed to do all it can to tackle “bin blight” and the proposed changes will clarify the existing provisions and help to ensure external waste storage is properly considered in new housing development".

Comments were invited on each of the draft documents. Where we have believed it to be outside of our field of experience or expertise, or we did not have a strong opinion, we have left a field blank (i.e. no response) to the questions, which could only be provided within the DCLG online survey. No alternative means of responding to the consultation was provided. Attached are copies of the prepared responses that were inserted into the DCLG online consultation on behalf of: -

GAP: "Consultation Question Responses_GAP07Nov2014"; and

DESUIF: "Consultation Question Responses_DESUIF07Nov2014".

A copy of the DCLG Consultation Document is also attached, which lists the background to this public consultation and the questions asked:

"140911__HSR_CONSULTATION_DOCUMENT_-_FINAL"

This was the second in a series of public consultations over the past 2 years on the Housing Standards Review by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). We responded to the earlier consultation in October 2013, following a relatively short consultation period. Prior to this initial consultation a meeting was attended by myself with the DCLG Chief Architect, along with a small group of other members of the Access Association from other regions, to discuss the standards review process, the Minister's intentions, and our concerns around housing standards locally and nationally. Our responses to the 2013 Public Consultation were prepared on the basis of our experience working with service users, and past reviews of local housing development proposals and planning applications, as well as supporting disabled service users to obtain their needs in regard to home adaptations to their council, private landlord, housing association, or owner occupier homes; following a review meeting with GAP and DESUIF members to consult on the consultation proposals and to inform our proposed responses. Copies of our responses to the 2013 Consultation along with the DCLG Consultation Document are also attached herewith:

Sept 2013 Consultation: "1-_Housing_Standards_Review_-_Consultation_Document"

GAP+DESUIF Response: "GAP_DESUIF_HousingStandardsReviewResponseFinal221013"

Updated Tuesday 18 Nov 2014




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