Government updates housing for elderly planning guidance

The government has updated planning practice guidance to put greater emphasis on councils to make provision for the changing needs of older residents.

Retirement homes: government wants range of housing options for older people
Retirement homes: government wants range of housing options for older people

Housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis said the changes would help to ensure that over 65s had a range of options to chose from to meet their changing needs, including better availability of bungalows, adaptations to existing properties, and additional supported housing.

In a statement to Parliament, Lewis said the amended guidance would "reinforce [the government’s] expectation" that councils would assess and plan to meet the diverse housing needs of older people.

"Local planning authorities need to be clear about the future level of both general and specialist accommodation that is needed for older people in their area," he said.

"There are already many great examples of innovative, well-designed housing schemes which help older people to live as independently as possible."

However, Lewis said that many older people neither wanted - nor needed - to live in specialist accommodation, and instead required more general housing.

The updated paragraph 21 of the planning practice guidance section on housing and economic development needs assessments stresses the importance of planning in helping older people to "live independently and safely in their own home for as long as possible, or to move to more suitable accommodation if they so wish".

It adds that supporting independent living "can help to reduce the costs to health and social services", and that assessments should set out particular types of general housing that would be suitable for older people, such as "bungalows or homes which can be adapted to meet a change in [older people’s] needs".

Lewis said the Strategic Housing for Older People toolkit produced by the Housing Learning and Improvement Network and the Association of Directors of Social Services was one useful resource for planners.

Lewis first spoke of his "love" of bungalows in a newspaper interview shortly after he was appointed to his current ministerial role in summer last year.


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