Homes have never been simply bricks and mortar – good housing and homes support our health, our wellbeing, our life chances and our job prospects. Everyone should have a home that brings them those chances and opportunities.
For over 20 years, homes delivered with the support of grant funding through the Affordable Housing Supply Programme (and its predecessors) have – wherever possible – been delivered to the standards set out in the Housing for Varying Needs design guide. While the guide still provides an excellent standard for delivering homes to meet the wide-ranging needs of Scotland’s people, the time is right for it to be reviewed. Amongst other things, we want the guide to help better serve our ageing population, to help people to live in their homes for longer, to make homes more ‘user-friendly’ for families with children, and to reflect lessons learnt from the pandemic by recognising the importance of outdoor space to our health and wellbeing.
While many of the design standards within Housing for Varying Needs are now included in building standards, there is still a difference between the two.
As set out within Housing to 2040 – Scotland’s first long-term national housing strategy – our aim is for all homes to be good quality, whether they be new build or existing, meaning that everyone can expect the same high standards no matter what kind of home or tenure they live in. During our engagement on the strategy, stakeholders told us that new homes should be future-proofed for accessibility, avoiding costly adaptations in the future when people’s needs may change. We have therefore committed to introducing the Scottish Accessible Homes Standard for all new homes, which will be implemented through changes to building standards and guidance from 2025-26. The Scottish Accessible Homes Standard will raise the baseline level of accessibility, adaptability and usability of all new homes – across all tenures – to meet the needs of people of all age groups, individuals and families, as well as the needs of wheelchair users and others.
Given the above, we are seeking your feedback on proposed changes to the Housing for Varying Needs design guide, and on proposals for changes to building standards and guidance.
This consultation provides an exciting opportunity for you to influence the future design of our homes, and I would like as wide a range of people as possible to help shape our next steps. I would like to hear from households across Scotland about what is important to you, your children and grandchildren, when it comes to enhancing the accessibility, adaptability and usability of new housing in Scotland. I would like to hear from disability and health representation groups, as well as health professionals. And I would like to hear from affordable housing providers, private developers, contractors, architects, quantity surveyors, affordable and private housing representative bodies, product manufacturers and others on the proposals we are putting forward.
I thank you for taking the time to consider this consultation, and invite you to respond.
Paul McLennan MSP
Minister for Housing
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