LEADING housing and planning charity, the Town and Country Planning Association has welcomed the debate in the House of Lords on affordable housing today.

Speaking in the debate, Baroness Rosalie Wilkins, patron of the Lifetime Homes and Neighbourhoods Foundation, of which the TCPA is a member, said:

“It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of our home in the lives of most people. It is normally the foundation for our personal well being – and for people with impaired mobility I think this is all the more true.

“Yet we face a housing crisis of an unprecedented scale and urgency.

“We need to keep reminding ourselves of the devastating impact which poor housing can have on people’s lives. Living in good quality affordable housing improves people’s life chances, means they have better health, it removes the scourge of fuel poverty and enhances children’s opportunities to learn, amongst many other benefits.

“People living longer are not just people living into old age but more people are surviving a traumatic birth, chronic illness or accident which previously would have killed them to live into adulthood. This is to be celebrated as an outstanding achievement of modern society.

“Yet, in surviving, people are too often faced with ongoing living requirements that are not met by the average house today.

“The delivery of affordable homes must be a priority. But we must take care not to rush in our desire to cut unit costs now and so build houses that fail current and future generations due to their small size.”

TCPA chief executive, Kate Henderson said:

“The Association strongly commends Baroness Wilkins for drawing attention to not just the desperate housing crisis, but also the need to ensure that we are designing and building homes that will meet the needs of generations to come.

“There is a huge housing challenge posed by the ten to eleven million people – including 800,000 children – with disabilities and our country’s changing age profile.

“In 2008, the Government was explicit that all new homes built after 2013 should be Lifetime Homes. Importantly, this would not just enable more people to live independently, but also reduce personal and public expenditure costs for health and social care, as well as boost people’s quality of life by giving them greater choice about where they could live whatever their personal abilities.

“Despite the current economic down-turn, the challenges identified two years ago not only remain, but draw inexorably closer. Government needs to take action now.

“In London, Mayor Boris Johnson has recently re-iterated his support for the Lifetime Home Standard as he wants houses in the Capital to be suitable for all, including people with a mobility impairment – the national Government must now adopt the same approach.”