How We Design Affordable Houses for Seniors and People with a Disability

Posted on 9 May, Wednesday

 

Our seniors housing architects have gained DA approval for a development at Freshwater , under a NSW government program that creates housing for older Australians and people with a disability.

Home, sweet home.

Doesn’t it feel good to say that about the space you spend so much time in?

For many people, their home provides security and privacy from the outside world. It’s also a haven of comfort, where practical needs are met.

But not everyone is so fortunate.

People living with a disability and senior Australians must contend with a shortage of suitable housing, on top of the challenges they face every day. Appropriate lodging is difficult to find, especially for people who don’t have extra money to spend.

In Australia, one in five people have a disability and around 15 per cent of the population is aged 65 and over. This number is expected to grow over the years, as Australia’s population grows older – putting even more pressure on suitable housing services to keep up.

The NSW government hopes to tackle this issue through a housing scheme that provides suitable living spaces for seniors and people with a disability. Their SEPP program has been running since 1982.

It allows the target group to live in areas where specialised housing isn’t usually permitted, due to council constraints.

Developers can sidestep local planning restrictions to build dwellings that can be easily cater for or be modified at a later date, depending on what the occupants need.

Research shows that adaptable housing is a cost-effective industry. Making a house adaptable from the outset (design phase) doesn’t cost any more, whereas amending an existing house costs more, adding up to 35 per cent in costs.

aeriel shot sydney residential suburb

Who benefits from affordable senior housing and disability housing?

The main goal is to build houses and communities that deliver physical and emotional support to seniors and people living with a disability.

SEPP Seniors Living creates housing for:

  • People of any age with a disability
  • Healthy active seniors (55 years old and over)
  • People who need help with their care

These independent dwellings are designed to support everyday living, provide comfort and boost a sense of community.

How does SEPP create disability housing and “over-55 living”?

The SEPP program works by giving developers incentive to construct suitable dwellings that meet particular criteria.

Developers using the scheme can override a few local planning restrictions:

  • The SEPP Seniors Code makes it possible to build 2 storey medium-density style residences in areas that permit detached houses only.
  • Constructing townhouses, single level villa style, or units accommodation on any land zoned for urban purposes (provided the original block is larger than 1000 square metres) has a frontage of 20m or more and is within 400m of public transport

What criteria must dwellings meet for disability housing and over-55 communities?

Only people with a disability or seniors can live in the homes, under the policy. The homes must be close to:

  • Regular public transport to:
    • Shops
    • Work places
    • Medical practitioners
    • Recreation centres
    • Community activities
    • Support services (this applies to retirement style villages)

All nearby travel routes must be easy to access and main roads need to have safe pedestrian crossing points.

The dwellings are specifically constructed with safety measures, comfort and convenience in mind. For example, a shower for seniors may be fitted with a removable screen, instead of a hob (which often leads to tripping).

Under the scheme, the housing options are:

  1. Self-contained dwellings: contains private facilities for cooking, sleeping and washing such as townhouses, units and villas.
  2. In-fill self-care housing: two or more self contained dwellings that don’t provide support services as part of the development.
  3. Serviced self-care housing: self-contained dwellings that provide support services such as personal care.
  4. Hostels: meals, laundering, cleaning and other services are available.
  5. Residential care facilities: accommodation includes meals, cleaning services, nursing care and more.
  6. Villages: affordable apartment-style living that delivers on-site support services on a communal basis.
  7. Retirement style villages: the policy allows the development of larger sites on the urban fringe. These provide many community services and facilities.

Our senior living architects design over-55 communities and disability housing:

Playoust Churcher is excited to announce the DA approval of a a SEPP seniors development at Freshwater with views to the ocean. These units offer amenity and practicability to downsizers amid a great location.

The development will be under construction in the latter half of this year.