Planners Failing To Understand Challange Of Changing Demographics
Published by Rob Ghosh for Hanover Housing Group in Housing
Underestimating and limiting the choice of housing for older people risks creating a ‘time bomb’ of unmet demand, under occupancy of family accommodation, rising costs of care and pressure on NHS budgets.
Speaking at the Housing for Assisted Living and Retirement Conference in London, Bruce Moore, Chief Executive of Hanover Housing Association said, “In far too many cases housing policies suffer from myopia by only focusing on general needs housing. This ignores the housing needs of our ageing population and overlooks the fact that some 20% of general needs housing is under occupied by older people”.
“Our changing demographics will see a 50% increase in the number of people aged over 65 in the next twenty years and an even greater increase in people aged over 85. This will result in the housing needs of this age group far outstripping the current supply”, he added.
Mr Moore said that the keys to housing for this new generation of older people are not the prescriptive models and patronising services of the past, but housing offers that combine choice, quality and meet aspirations.
“It is important to bear in mind”, he said, “that this generation of the plus 55s has grown up in a time of unprecedented consumerism, never having had it so good. If they are not offered desirable options they will simply ‘stay put’ in their current homes even though these may be less suitable and more expensive to heat and maintain. Improving the housing offer to older people will free up larger houses for younger families and create more liquidity in the market.”
Mr Moore went on to say, “Dramatic changes have been made to grant funding. This has been followed by the government saying they will relax the requirement for developers to provide for affordable housing. While we are seeking to deliver up to 40% affordable housing, having to compete head to head for sites with private sector house builders puts additional pressure on us”.
“What we don’t need is for additional hurdles to be put in our way by local authority planners who fail to understand the challenge of changing demographics and the opportunities good quality retirement housing can provide. Too often when they claim there is no need for more older people’s housing it is because they are thinking of local authority outdated and unsuitable ‘sheltered housing’ rather than the types of modern and attractive places where older people say they want to live. Even though these are very uncertain times we still need to be far sighted in planning for the housing and wellbeing of older people”, he concluded.
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