Proposed changes to accessible housing standards

The government have announced a consultation on proposed change to Part M of the Building Regulations, and the requirements for disabled access to new dwellings.

The current standards used in the Building Regulations are set at 3 variable levels, these are –

•M4(1): Visitable dwellings
•M4(2): Accessible and adaptable dwellings
•M4(3): Wheelchair user dwellings

At present requirement M4(1) is the default standard and applies as a mandatory requirement when no higher standard is applied locally. M4(2) and M4(3) are optional requirements for dwellings which local authorities can apply through planning policies.

The Government are looking at how they can best improve these requirements and have set out 5 potential ways forward. The options in the consultation are –

Option 1: Using recently revised planning policy to implement the use of optional technical standards.
Option 2: To mandate the current M4(2) requirement in Building Regulations as a minimum standard for all new homes, with M4(1) applying by exception (e.g a new build flat above a garage).
Option 3: Remove M4(1) altogether, so that all new homes will have to at least have the accessible and adaptable features of an M4(2) home.
Option 4: To mandate the current M4(2) requirement in Building Regulations as a minimum standard for all new homes with M4(1) applying by exception only, a set percentage of M4(3) homes would also need to be applied in all areas.
Option 5: Change the content to create a revised M4(1) minimum standard.

How would this affect your developments?

Well M4(1) only sets minimum standards – covering level access, level thresholds, door and corridor widths, entrance level WCs and accessible heights for controls. A move to M4(2) would require larger circulation spaces and sanitary provision (bathrooms) and features to make homes more easily adaptable over time. M4(3): Sets a standard for wheelchair accessible homes. This requirement can be for either a wheelchair adaptable home or a wheelchair accessible home.

To find out more about the different standards and what this could mean to your development get in touch and stay tuned for a future webinar.