The NSW Apartment Design Guide includes a small section on universal design. 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” (P 118).
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 rather than mainstream housing. The old Adaptable Housing Standard (AS4299) continues to be referenced. The new apartment guide replaces the NSW Residential Flat Design Code.
Note: In September 2022, the National Construction Code will make Silver level mandatory in all new dwellings. However, as at December 2021 NSW has not agreed to adopt the nationally agreed standard. The government claims it is doing sufficient housing for ‘those who need it’. However, Victoria and Queensland are keen to implement the new standard.