Last edited 28 Jul 2016

Lifetime homes

The Lifetime Homes standard was developed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Lifetime Homes Group in 1991. The standard is now promoted by the Foundation for Lifetime Homes and Neighbourhoods, established in 2010, which comprises Age UK, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), and Habinteg, a housing association originally set up by Scope. The administration and technical support for Lifetime Homes is provided by Habinteg, who took on this responsibility for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The Foundation for Lifetime Homes and Neighbourhoods suggests that, “Lifetime Homes make life as easy as possible for as long as possible because they are thoughtfully designed. They provide accessible and adaptable accommodation for everyone, from young families to older people and individuals with a temporary or permanent physical impairment…. Bringing Lifetime Homes design into the general housing stock should, over time, allow older people to stay in their own homes for longer, reduce the need for home adaptations and give greater choice to disabled people who cannot achieve independent living due to lack of suitable housing.”

The Lifetime Homes concept is based on five overarching principles:

It then sets out 16 criteria for accessibility and inclusive design to provide for the needs of occupants and the community:

  • Car parking width.
  • Moving from the parking space to the home.
  • Approach to the home.
  • Entrances.
  • Communal stairs and lifts.
  • Doorways & hallways.
  • Space to turn and move around.
  • Living room.
  • Convenient bed-space.
  • Accessible WC and potential shower.
  • Bathroom walls.
  • Getting upstairs - possibility for stair lift and future through floor lift.
  • Getting between bedroom and bathroom - potential hoist.
  • Bathroom layout.
  • Windows.
  • Sockets and controls.

Some local planning policies require that the Lifetime Homes standard is adopted in new developments, or recommend that it is. In Wales and Northern Ireland, new publicly-funded homes are required comply with the Lifetime Homes Standard.

In February 2008 the UK Government announced its intention to work towards all new homes being built to Lifetime Homes Standards by 2013 (ref Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods A National Strategy for Housing in an Ageing Society) and in November 2010, changes were made to the Code for Sustainable Homes incorporating revisions to the Lifetime Homes Standard.

However, as part of the government’s housing and construction 'Red Tape Challenge', there has been a move to consolidated standards into a national framework centred on the Building Regulations.

The government suggests that the large number of competing standards can be confusing, and that “standards are all drawn from documents produced by non-Governmental groups who perceive that current national guidance, policy or regulation is deficient in some respect, and needs to be supplemented. They are rarely subject to cost benefit analysis when they are developed, unlike government guidance or regulation”.

As a consequence, the Code for Sustainable homes can no longer be a requirement of planning conditions, and where a local planning authority adopts a policy to provide enhanced accessibility or adaptability they should do so only by reference to Requirement M4(2) and / or M4(3) of the optional requirements in the Building Regulations.

The requirement for Lifetime Homes standard in the London Plan will be replaced by the new M4(2) optional requirement in the Building Regulations.

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