Last month I brought correspondence from Leonard Cheshire Disability, Age UK, Habinteg and my own concerns regarding the Devolution Bill to the attention of Eric Pickles MP in his capacity as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
I have today received a written reply from Stephen Williams MP, Minister for Communities, as provided below:
3 Dec 2014
Dear Cllr Bola
Thank you for your e-mail of 6 November to the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP about the Deregulation Bill. I am replying as this falls within my ministerial responsibilities.
It is vital that people have access to housing which supports them in being independent and to live life to the full. That’s why we are taking forward this legislation to enable the introduction of higher levels of accessibility in Part M of the Building Regulations, including for the first time a fully wheelchair accessible standard, as well as an intermediate standard similar t the Lifetime Home Standard.
We want to see the right housing provision for everyone including older and disabled people and this is already clearly set out in National Planning Policy. We believe strongly that local authorities remain best placed to decide how local housing needs are best met. Clause 32 of the Deregulation Bill, which the Government is introducing, will empower local authorities to make judgements locally about whether they want to apply the new standard.
Local authorities that currently require higher Lifetime Homes type standards that are akin to the Government’s new standards will be able to retain the relevant policies in their plans, should they wish to.
London has recently announced that it will continue its policies by adopting the new optional Requirements as alternatives to its existing Lifetime Home and wheelchair accessible standards. We are putting in place transitional measures to ensure the supply of accessible housing is uninterrupted.
This is a significant step forward for accessible housing in England and I would expect every local authority to give serious consideration as to how these new Building Regulations can be used to best effect in their local area.
Stephen Williams MP