Inclusive design is crucial to future of the built environment and the ageing population

With the number of people in the UK aged 65+ projected to rise by 47% in the next 20 years to around 16.5 million, there is growing recognition that housing and built environments need to be more accessibly designed to meet the needs of our ageing population. With this in mind Age UK’s Engage Business Network is holding a free seminar on 25th June to look at the importance of inclusive design in residential and public spaces, considering the needs of older people as the ageing population increases.

Age UK’s Engage Business Network, which shares knowledge and insight with the business community and looks at what the ageing process means for business best practice, says that built environments from housing to city centres need to be equipped to meet the needs of our changing demographic.

Amongst a number of changes, Age UK would like to see further progress towards the features contained in the Lifetime Homes standard as part of the Government’s review of building standards. These would make homes easier to adapt to the needs of older residents and therefore provide significant social benefits and financial savings over the long term. Good housing design also needs to be integrated into communities with changes in the built environment, to improve transport, ensure there is access to shops and services within walking distance, and drive improvements in pavements, street lighting and open spaces.

Speakers at the seminar include Nicola Mathers from the Cabe team at the Design Council who will be demonstrating the importance of accessibility and inclusive design in the built environment. Nicola’s presentation will also touch upon work the Design Council and Cabe have done around the major issues associated with ageing – from finding new ways for people to live independently, and maintaining quality of life for people with longstanding conditions, to designing suitable spaces for older people.

Ian Rutter, Senior Manager for Age UK’s Engage Business Network, said:

“Well-considered inclusive design that is fit for purpose is a fundamental factor to consider in all types of built environments and local communities as the ageing population increases. For instance, the majority (90%)iii of older people would prefer to continue living independently at home, where possible.

“Our seminar will be examining current steps being taken to allow older people to stay in their homes for longer, such as those outlined in the Lifetime Homes Standard, and enjoy accessible public spaces in their neighbourhood ultimately making later life better for all.”