Nick Raynsford said.
A new guidebook equips housing providers, planners, developers, architects, the construction industry and consumer organisations with a step-by-step guide to new government regulations for making homes more accessible, that come into force from October.
Published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the illustrated guide also shows builders how minor additions to the new 'Part M' Building Regulations will ensure that homes meet the Housing Corporation's Scheme Development Standards and the 'Lifetime Homes' standards that are often required by commissioning clients and local authorities.
Under the altered regulations, new homes must be accessible by people who are disabled and others, such as parents with children in pushchairs. They cover safe and convenient access across the threshold, as well as the approach to the front door, to ensure there is space for a double buggy, wheelchair, stick or crutch user to get past a parked car and into the home.
Interior standards are designed to make it easier for older people and others to remain in their homes if they become frail or disabled. They require an entrance-level WC that can be accessed by someone using a wheelchair, and electrical switches and sockets at a level that can easily be reached.
The colour guide includes tables, which compare each requirement under the new Part M with standards recommended for Lifetime Homes and those set by the Housing Corporation.
A series of floor plans and diagrams illustrate imaginative design options for different homes, including small, two-bedroom homes.
In a foreword to the guide, Mr Raynsford writes: 'The implementation of the Part M regulations will improve the accessibility and convenience of new housing for everyone, and Lifetime Homes will help to make homes even more adaptable to long-term needs. Homes built to these standards can help to reduce future costs either for adaptations or for residential care. Lifetime Home standards in particular offer clear lifestyle benefits that homes built in earlier decades will not have.'
David Darton, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's director of communications and co-editor of the guide, urged designers and builders to 'go a little further than Part M requires' and adopt the Lifetime Homes standards. He said: 'Lifetime Homes include a number of attractive features that will differentiate them from existing housing stock. These will provide the people who live in them with many advantages and will give private builders a marketing edge in relation to the second-hand stock with which they compete.'
John Massey, head of mortgages at Midland Bank, said: 'As a major mortgage provider, Midland is delighted to support this forum for housing professionals which launches the Lifetime Homes guide. The new Part M regulations are set to make important improvements to new homes and this report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation offers clear guidelines on how best to implement them. This can only be good news for the housing industry.'
* Meeting Part M and designing Lifetime Homes, edited by Caitriona Carroll, Julie Cowans and David Darton is published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and is available from York Publishing Services Ltd., 64 Hallfield Road, Layerthorpe, York YO31 7ZX, Tel: (01904) 430033, price£19.95 (plus£2 p&p).