Written by Leichhardt Municipal Council on 6 November 2014
Leichhardt Council and City Futures Research Centre, UNSW Built Environment have been jointly awarded the Planning Institute Australia Award (PIA) for a research report aimed at improving access for older residents and people with disability in their homes. 
The 2014 Planning Institute Australia Award for Planning Excellence (NSW) was delivered this week in the category of cutting edge research and teaching. 
Leichhardt Mayor Rochelle Porteous commended the Council and UNSW ‘Home Modifications in Strata Properties’ report. 
“We were aware some of our residents had experienced difficulties undertaking alterations in strata schemes to improve access and useability including matters as basic as hand rails. The report we commissioned is ground breaking for the practical solutions to these issues it will deliver older and less mobile residents for many years to come within the Leichardt municipality and beyond,” Cr Porteous said. 
Cr Porteous hailed the report in identifying the necessary changes that could be made to existing policies, processes and laws to make it easier for owners and residents needing to carry out home modifications. 
“It also calls for a greater emphasis on accessibility in all new strata buildings - so really will deliver great change for many of our residents’ future housing needs.” 
“This is important research as around 7 per cent of the Leichhardt population are 70 years or over,” Cr Porteous said. 
Some of the topics covered in the report include: 
• Home modification needs in strata-titled properties identified by residents, peak body representatives and other professionals. 
• Existing policy and legislation that affects the process of undertaking home modifications in strata-titled properties. 
• Challenges in undertaking home modifications and opportunities for change. 
In delivering the award, PIA stated the research is pioneering as it is the first research to examine home modifications in strata dwellings in any state or country.