Report calls for planning changes to boost residential care sector

Local plans should recognise the need for residential care homes and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) development tariff should be reviewed to ensure residential care providers are not being 'disproportionately disadvantaged', a report into the future of care homes has recommended.

Residential care: report calls for planning changes to boost sector
Residential care: report calls for planning changes to boost sector

The report was put together by the Commission on Residential Care, which was formed in July 2013 to explore the future of residential care. The commission brought together academics, industry experts and providers to explore issues facing the care sector.

The report recommends that the term ‘residential care’ should be dropped and replaced with ‘housing with care’ to better describe the spectrum of options the sector covers.

The report says that local plans often do not recognise the need for housing with care, "nor are they obliged to ensure there is adequate land for such developments to serve the local community".

With a focus on first time buying and affordable housing, the report adds, ensuring housing is adequate for disabled or older people can be less of a priority.

The study also says that are reports that local planning authorities "are often cautious in giving planning permission to new housing with care developments for fear of ‘importing’ large numbers of older or disabled people into a community and overburdening local services".

The document says these fears "have been proven to be unfounded".

The report recommends:

  • Local plans should be coproduced with care commissioners and those responsible for drafting local joint strategic needs assessments (JSNAs).

  • Local plans must include an assessment of the population’s future housing with care and retirement housing needs along- side an assessment of need for general accessible (disabled- friendly) housing.

  • Local planning authorities should reflect a preference in planning permission guidance set out in the local plans for colocated housing with care facilities, those embedded with the wider community, and innovative and diverse design.

  • CIL should be reviewed to establish whether housing with care providers are disproportionately disadvantaged by it.

  • The use of planning incentives should be explored for providers willing to build housing with care which contributes to services for people funded by the local authority, and other related conditions linked to good practice in design.

  • There should be a change in planning-use classes to create a dedicated use class covering all housing with care.

  • The relaxed change of use measures introduced in 2013 to make it easier to convert offices to housing should be extended to enable NHS, MoD and university land banks, and appropriate office buildings, to be converted into housing with care models more easily.

  • Over the longer term, all new housing should be to Lifetime Homes standards and at least 10 per cent of new housing should be built to fully wheelchair accessible standards.

Former care minister and chair of the Commission on Residential Care, Paul Burstow MP, said: "As we are living longer lives, housing with care is going to become increasingly important in helping us stay independent, happy and healthy.

"It is vital that government wake up to this reality sooner rather than later and helps creates the right incentives to ensure older and disabled people have a genuine choice when they need to move".

The report can be read here.

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