The NSW Department of Planning has published a new Apartment Design Guide. It includes a small section on universal design. On page 118 it defines universal design as, “… an international design philosophy that enables people to continue living in the same home by ensuring that apartments are able to change with the needs of the occupants. Universally designed apartments are safer and easier to enter, move around and live in. They benefit all members of the community, from young families to older people, their visitors, as well as those with permanent or temporary disabilities.” While the definition implies that universal design only applies to housing design, it is a good step forward as it allows councils to request developers to include UD features.
In the design guidance section, it refers to the Livable Housing Design Guidelines (Silver Level, equivalent to visitability), but continues the reference to a proportional number (20%), which means universal design is not universally applied. Consequently this becomes specialised housing which is what universal design is seeking to eliminate in mainstream housing. The old Adaptable Housing Standard also continues to be referenced. The new apartment guide replaces the NSW Residential Flat Design Code.