Report calls for use class change to boost London retirement housing

New planning use class categories should be introduced to reduce the costs developers of retirement housing schemes face through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) development tariff and Section 106 agreements, a London Assembly report has said.

Retirement housing: report calls for CIL and S106 exemption
Retirement housing: report calls for CIL and S106 exemption

Members of the assembly’s housing committee said the capital currently had around 60,000 specialist housing spaces for the elderly but needed a further 80,000 to deal with a spike in over 85s predicted for the next two decades.

But the committee said that sheltered-living schemes were more expensive to construct and maintain than regular housing and therefore less attractive to developers.

Its report Homes for Older Londoners calls on London mayor Boris Johnson to lobby the government for changes in planning use classes that would "remove retirement housing from being treated in the same way as conventional housing in terms of liability for CIL and Section 106".

The report said that sheltered housing developments normally had a range of communal facilities such as shared sitting rooms and leisure space, but had to "compete" with general housing provision that did not.

The committee recommended that the mayor should consider lobbying for changes "that would incentivise low-to mid-value market retirement homes – for example by exempting the communal floor area from a range of planning obligations".

Other measures called for in the report include a review of Johnson’s property asset strategy to establish whether any Greater London Authority land holdings would be suitable for innovative specialist housing, including the scope for models such as Community Land Trusts.

Members complained that in some cases planners were wary of schemes that did not contribute to the provision of new affordable family homes, which were often the priority for boroughs, and needed to recognise how individual retirement schemes could fit into an overall strategic approach to increasing the supply of affordable housing.

Committee chair Darren Johnson said talk of the housing problems faced by young people risked ignoring the "booming population" of older people struggling to find affordable homes that suited their needs.

"To live independently and with a good quality of life, residents need the right sort of housing with key services and facilities nearby," he said.

"The mayor must act now to ensure that older people, their councils and developers can work together to build the kind of homes and communities that London needs."

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