Developers and KNDP come together to address accessibility issues

Developers association and commission for disabled persons pair up to study possibility of creating lifetime homes.

The Malta Developers Association (MDA) and the National Commission for Persons with Disability (KNDP) today announced that studies are underway to evaluate the possibility of constructing lifetime homes designed to accommodate persons with disability and limited mobility.

MDA president Michael Falzon explained that such houses are being constructed abroad awith the aim to make houses accessible and adaptable for disabled and elderly persons who face mobility problems.

Speaking on the budding relationship between the two organisations, Falzon said that many developers come across planning problems related to accessibility and the two parties have now decided to "work together rather than stand apart."

On the possibility of creating lifetime homes, Falzon said that on the initiative of KNDP architect Joseph Spiteri, the two parties were studying the possibility of constructing "normal homes which are adaptable and through small alterations can be made accessible."

The Lifetime Homes Standard is a concept developed in the UK in 1991 and includes a series of sixteen design criteria intended to make homes more easily adaptable for lifetime use at a minimal cost.

In 2008 the British government announced its intention to work towards all new homes being built to Lifetime Homes Standards by 2013.

On his part, KNDP chairperson Joe Camilleri insisted that the commission was not making any compromises on the principle of accessibility, especially in new buildings.

However, Camilleri accepted that existing buildings, especially in historic centres, had limitations and the commission has always granted exceptions.

Cammilleri added "It is important to work together, especially at the planning stage to avoid expensive and problematic alterations at a later stage."

Moreover, the Malta Developers Association will now be represented on the Test of Reasonableness Board, which among others evaluates building applications which require exemptions from accessibility standards.

Camilleri and MDA vice-president Sandro Chetcuti agreed that the relationship between the two organisations was far from idal in the past, however they were now committed to work together and understand each other's viewpoints.