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Housing Policy

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (261)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

261. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if his attention has been drawn to a campaign by several disability organisations (details supplied) in relation to Part M (Access and Use) of the 2010 building regulations; if he will have a time-limited review of Part M of the regulations with a view to changing the regulations in order that they support the construction of new homes that are wheelchair liveable rather than merely wheelchair visitable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61298/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Building Regulations apply to the design and construction of all new buildings (including dwellings) and to certain works to existing buildings. They are subject to ongoing review in the interests of safety and the well-being of persons in the built environment and to ensure that due regard is taken of changes in construction techniques, technological progress and innovation.

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 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.

Housing needs of people with disabilities are addressed in the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability (NHSPWD) 2016-2021. A new NHSPWD, is currently being developed by my Department and the Department of Health, with a view to publishing by the end of 2021. The strategy is about facilitating the provision of housing options and related services to disabled people to allow individual choice and support independent living.

In accordance with the vision and strategic aims of the current NHSPWD to achieve a coordinated and integrated approach to meeting the housing needs of people with a disability at local level, Housing and Disability Steering Groups (HDSGs) have been established in all local authority areas. These are chaired by the Directors of Housing with membership including the Health Service Executive (HSE) and disability representatives.

Each HDSG has prepared a local Strategic Plan for its own City/County area, to develop specific local strategies to meet the identified and emerging housing needs of people with disabilities in their areas with a view to developing annual targets for the delivery of housing to people with a disability on their housing waiting lists.

Separately, Action 97 of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021 states – “We will prepare policy advice on ways of achieving universal design solutions for new housing so that new homes can be accessed and used by all persons, irrespective of size, age, ability or disability. We will advise on any implications of same for stakeholders including designers, builders, homeowners and tenants.” I understand that the National Disability Authority (NDA), which falls under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth, is working on this policy advice. The NDA are an independent statutory body that provides information and advice to the Government on policy and practice relevant to the lives of persons with disabilities.

The NDA also provides comprehensive guidance on how to design, build and manage buildings and spaces so that they can be readily accessed and used by everyone, regardless of age, size, ability or disability. 'Building for Everyone, A Universal Design Approach', a NDA publication, may be accessed at www.nda.ie.

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.

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 analysis to identify delivery approaches to address this commitment is currently being undertaken by the NDA.

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