Planning For Retirement Living

Publication Date08 July 2021
SubjectEmployment and HR, Real Estate and Construction, Retirement, Superannuation & Pensions, Construction & Planning, Real Estate
Law FirmMills & Reeve
AuthorCaroline Bywater

Many have said that a lack of planning policy support for the delivery of retirement housing is one of the biggest hurdles which the sector faces - which seems odd, as an ageing population is one thing which can, with some certainty, be foreseen and therefore surely planned for.

At a national level, the Government has acknowledged the need to plan for accommodation for the ageing population. The NPPF expressly refers to the need to consider the size, type and tenure of housing needed by older people, and planning practice guidance reminds us that "a healthy place ...meets the needs of children and young people to grow and develop, as well as being adaptable to the needs of an increasingly elderly population ..." Yet still a significant number of local authorities have no specific policies regarding the needs of our ageing population. So, what can planning authorities do now to respond to this issue?

Most obviously, local planning authorities should take a pro-active approach to identifying the need and aspirations for specialist housing in their area, and seek to allocate sites for development accordingly. Much will of course depend on the demographic in each case, but it is vital that the need and desire for retirement housing are considered in order to ascertain whether this matches with what is provided for in existing and emerging policies. This message is starting to come through loud and clear in appeal decisions too: an application for 133 assisted living units in an area of outstanding natural beauty has recently been allowed at appeal, with the inspector finding that exceptional circumstances to justify the development existed partly because the area had an immediate unmet need for extra care market housing, with the matter being of "substantial importance in the public interest". Another retirement homes scheme has also recently been successful at appeal, this time for 222 new homes in a town centre, with the inspector reminding the authority of its duty "to advance equal opportunities between the elderly and younger members of...

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