Thursday, 12 November 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
Social and Affordable Housing
209. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the percentage of new social and affordable housing units which meet the universal design standard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35990/20]
210. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the target for the number of new social and affordable housing units that will be fully accessible for persons with disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35991/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 209 and 210 together.
Local authorities are responsible for the provision of social housing in their areas, and, as such, decide on the number and specific types of dwellings to provide in their developments, based on identified need. My Department oversees national social housing delivery at programme and scheme level and does not hold specific details in relation to individual dwellings built in accordance with universal design principles.
Social housing is built to the design standards set out in the guidelines 'Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities' which are available at www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/DevelopmentandHousing/Housing/FileDownLoad%2C1979%2Cen.pdf.
In preparing these Guidelines, particular account was taken of the objectives of government policy on sustainability, including access for people with disabilities and meeting the varied needs of occupants through their lifetime.
The design approach to social housing seeks to eliminate barriers to accessibility for all users - particularly older people, and those with mobility impairment or other disability. Where units are being designed for those with disabilities, the Guidelines refer to the National Disability Authority publication 'Building for Everyone: Inclusion, Access and Use'.
More recently, the Housing Agency published a Roadmap titled 'Designing Housing to Meet the Needs of All' which has specific regard to the principles of universal design. www.housingagency.ie/sites/default/files/2019-07/Designing-Housing-to-meet-the-needs-of-all.pdf.
New buildings and extensions or material alterations to existing buildings must comply with the legal minimum performance standards set out in the Building Regulations 1997 - 2019. In this context, the Building Regulations (Part M Amendment) Regulations 2010, and the accompanying Technical Guidance Document M – Access and Use (2010), which came into effect on 1 January 2012, set out the minimum statutory requirements that a building must achieve in respect of access.
Part M of the Building Regulations aims to foster an inclusive approach to the design and construction of the built environment. While the Part M requirements may be regarded as a statutory minimum level of provision, the accompanying technical guidance encourages building owners and designers to have regard to the design philosophy of universal design and to consider making additional provisions where practicable and appropriate.
The Programme for Government Our Shared Future commits to ensuring that there is an appropriate mix of housing design types provided, including universally designed units, and accommodation for older people and people with disabilities. In addition, the joint policy statement Housing Options for Our Ageing Population, launched by my Department and the Department of Health in 2019 includes an Action on universal design to “In partnership with industry, introduce measures to ensure that over a five year period delivery is increased to ensure that 30% of all new dwellings are built to incorporate universal design principles to accommodate our ageing population.” Appropriate measures to deliver on this commitment are currently being formulated by my Department.