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Accessible homes in Stirling

We have sent in an extensive submission to Stirling Council as part of its assessment and consultation around Housing Need and Demand.

We believe that a minimum of 16% of the total housing stock in the local area should be designed or adapted so that it is accessible. There is a need for homes that are suitable, safe and comfortable for the range of health and social care needs of the local population.

Our submission

The Panel is not a housing expert so our submission and design comments are pragmatic suggestions only, based upon experiences and knowledge accumulated through the access-related work that we do.

Our support for 16% of housing stock to be accessible is based on the following factors:

  • The Scottish Government considers that just over 20% of the population live with a disability; by 2021, 40% of the population will be over 65.

  • A housing review by Disability Equality Scotland in 2014 suggests that 16% of all housing should be accessible.

Here are some of the concerns we highlighted in our submission

The commercial or private side of house building doesn't appear to contribute to the build of accessible homes.

We urge the Scottish Government to urgently change the legislation on ALL new house construction to force the build of a substantial percentage of accessible homes. Currently, a little over 1% of new social housing is fully accessible by wheelchair. Almost 10,000 people in Scotland are stuck in unsuitable council housing according to this report. We support the Lifetime Homes concept. Homes specifically designed to be accessible are much more preferable to the adaptation of unsuitable stock. Adaptions are more expensive and are ultimately sub-optimal as many houses and room sizes make proper conversion impossible. In 2013, the Scottish Government recognised the need for accessible housing for older people, but there is no evidence that anything was done. See more.

There is plenty of support for the need for more accessible housing. For example:

Capability Scotland commented in 2010 “Without a safe, secure and accessible house it can be impossible to access employment opportunities, a decent education and an active social life. However, many disabled people in Scotland face significant barriers to finding somewhere suitable to live.”

The Blackwood Foundation Report 2011 noted key lessons on design, technology and independent living, as follows:

“Disabled and older people are the experts in independent living and we need to bring their expertise into the design and development process”

“Design has the capacity to both include and exclude disabled people and poor design was cited by participants as a major source of frustration.”

“Currently people have very little opportunity to influence the design of products that are created to support their independence.”

"Frequently people are not aware of what is available to support their independence. Even when they are, it can be difficult to find the right product.”

Approximately, just 15% of new architects take the access design module during their training. It is perhaps as a consequence of this that Inclusive Design for new builds often do not meet the Standards of BS8300.

We have seen recent examples of drawing layouts of so called ‘wheelchair houses’ where the toilet door could not be fully accessed by a wheelchair user!

The use of ‘modular’ housing design, where walls can be moved etc, does not seem popular. However, were homes to be designed in this way, future adaptions would be simpler and cheaper to carry out.

We don’t advocate single bedroom houses for disabled people because the floor space is inadequate for their needs.

The ‘bedroom tax’ has damaged reasonable provision for many independent, individual disabled people and couples who would find a second bedroom essential for a carer, relation, or friend to stay with them as they just cannot afford the provision. A second bedroom also provides space for storing and charging a powered wheelchair or/and indoor wheelchair.

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