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Housing Policy

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 7 December 2021

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

Ceisteanna (247)

Holly Cairns


247. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will ensure that 7% of all new builds are fully wheelchair accessible. [60191/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Programme for Government 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. Securing and enhancing the accessibility of these new build dwellings to meet the identified needs of persons with disabilities forms the basis of a number of approaches by Government across housing types and tenures.

Housing needs of people with disabilities are addressed in the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability (NHSPWD) 2016-2021. A new strategy is currently being finalised by my Department and the Department of Health, and will be published shortly.

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.

Local authorities are responsible for the provision of social housing in their areas, and, therefore, decide on the number and specific types of dwellings to provide in their developments, based on identified need. Social housing is built to the design standards set out in the guidelines 'Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities' available at www.gov.ie/en/publication/60868-quality-housing-for-sustainable-communities/

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 .

In addition, the joint policy statement Housing Options for Our Ageing Population , launched by my Department and the Department of Health in 2019 sets out 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.” The recent launch of the agefriendlyhomes.ie website means that an array of information to support the development of Age Friendly Housing, such as case studies, research, funding information and design templates are now available and further measures to deliver on this commitment are being advanced by my Department.