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Policy D5 Accessible housing


  1. To provide suitable housing and genuine choice for London’s diverse population, including disabled people, older people and families with young children, residential development must ensure that:
    1. at least 10 per cent of new build dwellings meet Building Regulation requirement M4(3) ‘wheelchair user dwellings’, i.e. designed to be wheelchair accessible, or easily adaptable for residents who are wheelchair users
    2. all other new build dwellings meet Building Regulation requirement M4(2) ‘accessible and adaptable dwellings’.

Many households in London already require accessible or adapted housing to lead dignified and independent lives[27]. More Londoners are living longer and with the incidence of disability increasing with age, older people should have the choice of remaining in their own homes rather than moving due to inaccessible accommodation. To address these and future needs, Policy D5 Accessible housing should apply to all new build dwellings.

[27] Source – English Housing Survey

Where any part of an approach route including the vertical circulation in the common parts of a block of flats is shared between dwellings of different categories (i.e. M4(2) and M4(3)), the design provisions of the highest numbered category of dwelling served should be applied, to ensure that people can visit their neighbours with ease and are not limited by the design of communal areas.

To ensure that all potential residents have choice within a development, the requirement for M4(3) wheelchair user dwellings applies to all tenures. Wheelchair user dwellings should be distributed throughout a development to provide a range of aspects, floor level locations, views and unit sizes.

Standard M4(3) wheelchair user dwellings distinguishes between ‘wheelchair accessible’ (a home readily usable by a wheelchair user at the point of completion) and ‘wheelchair adaptable’ (a home that can be easily adapted to meet the needs of a wheelchair user). Planning Practice Guidance[28] states that Local Plan policies for wheelchair accessible homes should only be applied to those dwellings where the local authority is responsible for allocating or nominating a person to live in that dwelling, otherwise M4(3) dwellings should be wheelchair adaptable.


As set out in Approved Document M of the Building Regulations, Volume 1: Dwellings, to comply with requirements M4(2) or M4(3), step-free access into the dwelling must be provided.

In exceptional circumstances, the provision of a lift to dwelling entrances may not be achievable. In the following circumstances and in blocks of four storeys or less, it may be necessary to apply some flexibility in the application of this policy:

  • Specific small-scale infill developments (see Policy H2 Small sites)
  • Flats above existing shops or garages, and stacked maisonettes where the potential for decked access to lifts is restricted
  • Blocks where the implications of ongoing maintenance costs on the affordability of service charges for residents will be prohibitive.

If it is agreed at planning stage (for one of the reasons listed above) that a specific development warrants flexibility in the application of the accessible housing standards M4(2) and M4(3), affected dwellings above or below ground floor would be required to satisfy the mandatory building regulations requirements of M4(1) via the Building Control process. M4(2) and M4(3) dwellings should still be required for ground floor units.

M4(2) and M4(3) dwellings should be secured via planning condition to allow the Building Control body to check compliance of a development against the optional Building Regulations standards. Planning conditions should specify:

  • Number of dwellings per size typology (i.e. x no. of y bed units) which are required to meet M4(2)
  • Number of dwellings per size typology (i.e. x no. of y bed units) which are required to meet M4(3) wheelchair accessible standards
  • Number of dwellings per size typology (i.e. x no. of y bed units) which are required to meet M4(3) wheelchair adaptable standards