Research just published by Aspire has revealed that a two speed housing system exists in many parts of England.  It will on average, take local authorities 12.5 years to house all the wheelchair users on their housing lists, but only seven years before all non-wheelchair-using households are allocated a home. However, in several areas it will take tens of years for all those waiting for wheelchair accessible housing to be rehoused, and over a century in at least one area. Shockingly, in eight local authorities, wheelchair users can expect to wait at least five times longer than their non-wheelchair using counterparts. To further clarify the reality of what this statistic means; of these eight authorities, the authority showing the shortest time to house all current wheelchair users, will take 10 years to do so at current allocation rates, but only 1.8 years to rehouse non-wheelchair user households. At the other end of this range, the authority with the longest time to house all wheelchair users, will take an unbelievable 106 years to clear the list, but only five years to house non-wheelchair user households.

What this means for those stuck in inaccessible homes for years is a life on hold, often confined to one room, with loss of dignity and independence, relying on family members to assist with toileting and other personal daily activities.

We desperately need a new legal framework to put the health and wellbeing of communities at the heart of new housing development. Rather than accessibility being something that developers can negotiate away along with energy efficiency, space standards and green space, the expectation has to be that all housing fit for the 21st century includes such features as a matter of course.

The Healthy Homes Act campaign, launched by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) on Thursday 2nd May, received input from over 25 different organisations from the built environment sector including Aspire. Everyone has the right to a decent home. That’s why we’re joining the TCPA in calling for a series of design, safety and placemaking principles to regulate new housing. #HealthyHomesAct


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