Words by Paul F. Cockburn

UK housebuilders have a “responsibility” to create housing suitable for disabled and elderly people, according to a UK Government Minister.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Wales Office, was responding in the House of Lords to reports of objections being raised by the Home Builders Federation to local authorities wishing to set targets for accessible or adaptable new build houses.

According to The Guardian, HBF has made submissions to at least 17 authorities, from Liverpool to Sevenoaks, arguing that such targets could make it unprofitable to build new homes.

Highlighting how the interests of older and disabled people were now part of the planning guidance within the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework, Lord Bourne said: “We are behind local authorities which are keen to take this forward. I agree that it is for building companies to respond to that; they have a responsibility.”

After the Liberal Democrats Baroness Thomas Of Winchester reminded him that “there is a world of difference between homes adapted for disability and the basic minimum access requirements in Part M4(2) of the building regulations,” Lord Bourne insisted: “It is the mark of a civilised society, as well as a point of self-interest, that we should do these things.”

The Liberal Democrats Baroness Brinton suggested that local councils should be reminded of data which showed “that it costs only just over £1,000 to make a new unit disabled-friendly when building it, whereas later adaptations cost a minimum of £20,000”.

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