The UK is failing to plan housing for a rapidly-ageing population

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Lichfields’ Senior Planner Jennifer Nye

THE country is failing to plan enough homes for the UK’s rapidly-ageing population, new research reveals.

Solutions to an age old problem’ from national planning and development consultancy Lichfields finds only 16 out of the 149 Local Plans it reviewed have identified a specific requirement for older people’s housing.

Out of these, only six have specifically allocated land for this purpose.

However, the research finds that within many councils there is a growing awareness of the need to improve the allocation and delivery of housing for older people.

In fact, it finds that at grass roots level there is a ground swell of support for increased older people’s housing provision articulated through the results of SHMAs (Strategic Housing Market Assessments), household surveys and stakeholder consultations.

But, Lichfields says that without some positive policy measures the current failure to provide enough elderly homes will exacerbate the nation’s on-going housing issues.

Lichfields’ Senior Planner Jennifer Nye said: “The UK’s elderly population is growing and a clear plan is needed to ensure the housing needs of this demographic are adequately met.

“But national and local planning policy is not currently doing this. We need to establish a system which requires all local planning authorities to objectively assess the housing needs of its older population.

“This should recognise the roles of different types of accommodation which are required and ensure that policy is fit to enable delivery.”

Lichfields says one issue which needs urgent action is clarity on what constitutes the different types of older people’s housing, with the existing varied classifications creating uncertainty and confusion.

Lichfields also finds that, while not having effective policy measures in place, councils are stepping up efforts to monitor older people’s housing delivery.

This is especially so in Scotland, where 80% of authorities currently monitor the supply of elderly accommodation, with the results published on the Scottish Government’s website.

The UK Government is also aware of this pressing issue, and in its latest consultation  ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places’  it says it will seek measures to boost elderly housing provision.

Lichfields believes the Government should act swiftly to address the emerging problem by publishing a national strategy outlining how the housing needs of older people will be met. Something The House of Commons has also called for.

It says planning authorities should be compelled to include positive polices and allocations for housing for older people and monitor its delivery.

Ms Nye added: “In line with the wider global trend, the UK population profile is ageing dramatically and the planning system will play a crucial role in facilitating the delivery of the homes and facilities required to meet the needs of this growing demographic.

“But falling to provide sufficient new homes for this group could have wider impacts on public services, especially social and health care, whilst also  impacting on the ability of the younger generations to gain a foot-hold on the property ladder.”

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