Memorandum by Retirement Housing Group
The Retirement Housing Group of the House Builders
Federation consists of retirement housing developers and housing
managers, both RSL and private sector. It ex officio members include
representatives of the charity, the Elderly Accomodation Counsel,
and the Association of Retirement Housing Managers.
This evidence deals exclusively with this specialist
area of housing and supplements the submission by the House Builders
Federation on behalf of developers of general market housing.
The Group has a wide-ranging interest in planning
and management issues, leasehold reform and Government policy
of all kinds, which affect vulnerable groups such as the elderly.
Sheltered housing is
"housing which is purpose built or converted
exclusively for sale to elderly people with a package of estate
management services and which consists of grouped, self-contained
accommodation with an emergency alarm system, usually with communal
facilities and normally with a resident warden."
This can cover a range of provision from lifestyle
housing for the active, newly retired through to warden assisted
housing with community facilities and design modifications through
to very sheltered housing with high staffing levels and many additional
services and facilities.
The majority of current schemes are warden assisted
with occupants of an average age of 75. As such these purchasers
and residents, even if still fit, are likely to become increasingly
frail and concerned about security.
The significance of sheltered housing for social
and planning policy purposes lies in the enormous challenge our
society faces from an ageing population.
Local authorities have a duty to identify housing
need so that they can plan to meet it. The central plank of Government's
planning policy guidance, PPG3: Housing, acknowledges that sheltered
housing meets a recognised housing need. The DETR "Guide
to Good Practice" provides detailed advice on how to conduct
surveys of housing needs. It recognises that the assessment of
needs for a range of vulnerable groups should be carried out and
that older people are a key category amongst such groups. It is
clear that the provision of general needs affordable housing sits
within the wider assessment of all housing needs. The Group is
concerned about the problems likely to arise from trying to meet
two housing needs on one site.
As the questions raised by the Committee in
its request for evidence suggest, the Government is considering
both fiscal and planning measures to deliver more affordable housing.
The Chancellor's Comprehensive Spending Review focused on the
former and not all proposals have yet been brought forward by
ODPM for deploying the resources he announced then, although some
were outlined by Lord Rooker on 18 September. Consequently it
is difficult to evaluate them at this stage and debate on the
questions asked by the Inquiry is not within the remit of this
Our earlier submission on affordable housing
to the DTLR Transport, Local Government and the Regions Committee
in May 2002 dealt with many of the issues that are of concern
However, in addition to those comments we now
wish to respond specifically to the question raised in this re-opened
Inquiry about the role of planning obligations in providing affordable
We note that, on 18 July 2002, the Deputy Prime
Minister announced that he was withdrawing proposals for a development
tariff and that many of the Government's objectives could be delivered
without legislative change. Current policy guidance would be revised
and "work carried out with relevant stakeholders to create
a more streamlined system that would enable the community to share
in the benefits arising from development."
We presume this means that Circulars 1/97 (Planning
obligations) and 6/98 (Planning and Affordable Housing)
will be re-written to reflect current policy aims. We would urge
that the issues we raised in our first submission to the Inquiry
earlier this year in the section on "The Appropriateness
of Two Housing Needs Categories on One Site" be addressed
in any such review.
In particular, we advocate that the appropriateness
of requiring general social housing provision on sheltered housing
schemes and its impact on the core object of sheltered housing
in meeting the growing needs of an ageing population should be
the subject of specific circular guidance.