Policy HOU7 Adaptable and Accessible Homes
To assist with the delivery of adaptable and accessible homes, planning permission will be granted for a new dwelling where the following criteria are met:
where a dwelling has car parking within its individual plot boundary, at least one parking space should be capable of enlargement to achieve a minimum width of 3300mm. Where communal parking is proposed at least two out of every 20 spaces should have a width of 3300mm;
dining areas and living rooms should allow space for turning a wheelchair;
a living room/living space will normally be expected to be provided on the entrance level of every dwelling;
the principal window in the principal living space should be sited to enable outlook when seated; and
an accessible bathroom, which allows space for turning a wheelchair, should be provided on the same floor as the main bedroom.
All proposals for residential development will also be required to meet the General Policy and accord with other provisions of the LDP.
Justification and Amplification
While the existing Building Regulations (2012) focus on ensuring that dwellings are accessible for visitors; the intention of this policy is that homes are accessible for those who live in them. Lifetime Homes standards31 are a nationally recognised set of criteria to make new dwellings adaptable enough to accommodate a household’s changing lifetime needs and enable them to be lived in and visited by people with varying degrees of mobility. Whilst some of the Lifetime Homes standards are included in technical booklet Part R of the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012, many are not. This policy seeks to address those elements of the standards that can be adequately addressed through the planning system. The policy will apply more to new dwellings provided through the private sector as the requirement for Housing Associations to build to the Lifetime Home standards has applied in NI since 1998 and is set out in the DfC Housing Association Guide (HAG).
This policy applies to all proposals for new dwellings, flats and apartments including a dwelling located in the countryside. On submitting a planning application, floor plans should indicate an unobstructed turning circle of 1500mm diameter or a turning ellipse of 1700mm x 1400mm within dining areas, living rooms and also in accessible bathrooms on the same floor as the main bedroom to allow space for turning a wheelchair. To allow a reasonable view from the principal living space, the principal window in this living space, or glazed doors should include glazing that starts no higher than 800mm above floor level.
It is recognised that there may be some exceptional circumstances where not all of these policy criteria can be accommodated whilst still meeting other planning policy requirements. Such cases will be considered on their merits whilst carefully balancing all policy and other material considerations.