On 1 October 2015 a new national standard for housing design was introduced, as an enhancement of Part M of the Building Regulations.
This replaces Islington’s flexible housing standard and Habinteg’s standards for wheelchair accessible housing that have been required in Islington since 2009.
Notwithstanding this direction Islington will continue to implement its Development Management Policy 2.2 Inclusive Design and the associated Inclusive design in Islington supplementary planning document (SPD) adopted in February 2014 (with the exception of section 5 which is retained as good practice guidance) to ensure that all new development is socially inclusive and sustainable.
Islington also operates London Plan policy 3.8, Housing Choice, which requires that:
Ninety percent of new housing meets Building Regulation requirement M4 (2) ‘accessible and adaptable dwellings’; and
Ten per cent of new housing meets Building Regulation requirement M4 (3) ‘wheelchair user dwellings’ i.e. it is designed to be wheelchair accessible M4(3)(2)(b), or easily adaptable M4(3)(2)(a) for residents who are wheelchair users
M4 (2) - Category 2 - is similar but not the same as the Lifetime Homes standard; the object being to produce a stock of general needs housing that is both visitable and adaptable, having the facility to flex to different family structures, lifestyles and needs.
What do we mean by visitability?
A home that is visitable has a step free approach and threshold and there is a living space and WC at entrance level.
What do we mean by adaptability?
An adaptable property has the capacity for quick and inexpensive alteration to enable a resident to stay-put should they acquire a mobility impairment. Access to a bedroom and bathroom are facilitated perhaps via a through floor lift and grab rails can be installed.
What is a wheelchair accessible unit (M4(3)(2)(b))?
It is one within which a wheelchair user can live permanently, comfortably and conveniently; the wheelchair user could be any member of the family and should be able to access and use all facilities within the home.
What is an easily adaptable wheelchair accessible unit (M4(3)(2)(a))?
It is one that is not immediately occupied by a wheelchair user. All spatial provisions should nonetheless be in place from day one. The easy adaptation simply refers to the installation of grab rails, bespoke bathroom and or kitchen units, hoists etc.