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GLA planning chief plays down housing guidance fears

  • 2 Comments

Ed Lister, London deputy mayor for policy and planning, has said that architects are wrong to be concerned about proposals to make homes in the capital more accessible

He said the plans, set out in draft guidance, would be subject to viability and the authority had no plans to force all homes to have step-free access.

A clause within the Mayor’s Draft Interim Housing Supplementary Guidance states that the ‘optional’ building regulation M4 should be applied to all new homes.

But earlier this week architects raised fears that the proposals would see councils demanding every housing development over two storeys had a lift.

However, Lister responded: ‘We’ve always had a robust line on Lifetime Homes. London has an increasingly ageing population and we need to be providing homes which are accessible. The London Plan now has a requirement of 3,000 homes for the elderly.

‘Because of government changes to the housing standards in order to protect all features we’ve opted for a robust requirement. If we don’t have something like this then it will water down what has been a very successful system.’

Lister, added: ‘It is very clear that the requirement is subject to viability and lifts will certainly not be required in individual houses.’

  • 2 Comments

Readers' comments (2)

  • The Deputy Mayor’s comments seem to suggest that the new Guidance is trying to protect the status quo. However, the Lifetime Homes and outgoing Housing SPG specifically allowed stepped access to an upper floor dwelling via a common stair (in a low rise ‘walk up’), or private stair (in specific typologies such as dwellings over shops or double stacked maisonettes, etc). This has enabled good architects and planners to develop high quality housing and mixed use schemes that achieve density while remaining low to mid rise and street based; schemes that contribute positively to the city without resorting to the default high rise block of flats.

    The change in the guidance regarding stepped access, that results in the outlawing of these crucial design typologies, will mean that the only typology available will be the high rise block of flats.

    The new SPG includes caveats that reluctantly seem to allow London planners to permit stepped access on special occasions, however, the tone is negative and hesitant. Instead, the SPG should encourage design approaches (including stepped access to upper floors) if they result in innovative, high density, street based schemes that focus the activity and interaction of people into the streets and urban spaces rather than lift wells and corridors. Phil Hamilton, Director of Peter Barber Architects.

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  • The Deputy Mayor’s comments seem to suggest that the new Guidance is trying to protect the status quo. However, the Lifetime Homes and outgoing Housing SPG specifically allowed stepped access to an upper floor dwelling via a common stair (in a low rise ‘walk up’), or private stair (in specific typologies such as dwellings over shops or double stacked maisonettes, etc). This has enabled good architects and planners to develop high quality housing and mixed use schemes that achieve density while remaining low to mid rise and street based; schemes that contribute positively to the city without resorting to the default high rise block of flats.

    The change in the guidance regarding stepped access, that results in the outlawing of these crucial design typologies, will mean that the only typology available will be the high rise block of flats.

    The new SPG includes caveats that reluctantly seem to allow London planners to permit stepped access on special occasions, however, the tone is negative and hesitant. Instead, the SPG should encourage design approaches (including stepped access to upper floors) if they result in innovative, high density, street based schemes that focus the activity and interaction of people into the streets and urban spaces rather than lift wells and corridors. Phil Hamilton, Director of Peter Barber Architects.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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