The houses we build today will need to last for many years and adapt to the changing needs of their first and future residents. Homes should be flexible enough to be easily changed as residents grow older or if their lifestyles change.
The population of the UK is changing and the average age of people living in this country is rising. By 2026 it is predicted that there will be an extra 2.4 million older households than there are today. Some people will choose to move into new homes when they become older, but many will want to remain in the house they have lived in for many years. For this reason it is important that the homes we are building today are flexible and adaptable to meet the changing needs of the people that live in them.
The key features of lifetime homes are:
- Car parking - which may need to be wider to ease people getting in and out of vehicles, and located in a place that is easily accessible from the home
- Entrances - should not be approached by steep slopes or steps, and should be sheltered and well lit
- Doors and hallways - wider doors and hallways, above the current building regulations, are ideal for wheelchairs
- Bathrooms - ideally there should be a WC at entry level. This room should be plumbed so that a shower can be fitted in the future. Bathroom walls should be capable of having handrails or winches fitted in the future
- Multiple stories - in homes of more than one floor there should be space on the entry level for a bed. Stairs should be able to accommodate a stair lift if one is required later on
- Fixtures - such as light switches and windows should be at a useable height for wheelchair users.
The full 16 design principles of lifetime homes are available here.
All the homes built in Walker Riverside are lifetime homes.
National strategy for ageing population
The government's strategy for housing an ageing population will require all homes to be built to lifetime homes standards by 2013. For publicly funded homes the requirement will come earlier. Developers and local planning authorities will need to adopt policies that work towards achieving this standard from now.