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The Greens say they would vastly improve the disability and ageing accessibility of new homes in Canberra by 2020.

It is the first detailed election initiative of the campaign for the Greens, who may yet again find themselves in a balance-of-power position in the expanded Legislative Assembly.

The Greens say they would make all new homes in Canberra meet a new design standard, known as the liveable housing design silver level, which ensures buildings are accessible for ageing residents and those with a disability.

The policy is yet to be costed, but the Greens say they will submit it to Treasury during the election costings period.

The Master Builders Association said the design principles were positive, but warned they would almost certainly add to the costs of building homes.

Executive director Kirk Coningham said governments must avoid adding to building costs at a time when free-standing homes were already almost out of reach of the average first home buyer in Canberra.

“The MBA is fine with the design principles, but as a guiding principle today in the ACT, we’ve got to be ultra cautious of adding any cost onto a new home,’ he said.

But Greens housing and homelessness spokeswoman Veronica Wensing said there was a major shortage of accessible homes in the ACT, and that including accessible design at construction phase was much cheaper than retro-fitting.

“What we know is that its actually 22 times more efficient to include these liveable housing design features at the point of construction, than it is to retrofit,” she said.

The Greens’ policy would establish a transition plan to ensure all new homes meet the accessibility standards by 2020.

They would also develop training and transition programs for architects and builders, and provide government housing projects for people with specific needs.

Via The Canberra Times. View the full article here.