Written evidence from McCarthy & Stone
Despite the rapidly ageing population, very few older
people will be able to live in housing that is designed and located
to specifically meet their needs in later life. Only 100,000 private
properties (owner-occupied) in the UK are currently classified
as retirement, sheltered or extra care housing, providing homes
for just 1% of the UK's population of older people.
Although Regional Spatial Strategies were tasked
with addressing the impact of ageing populations on regional infrastructure
requirements, in reality they failed to deliver a better choice
in housing for older people at the local level. This is due to
a combination of lack of central government direction with a lack
of proactive, strategic planning by local authorities for the
needs of their older communities.
Replacing RSSs with "localism" could help
to improve a community's understanding and assessment of the need
for provision of housing for older people. However, it must be
delivered hand-in-hand with clear direction from central Government
within a revised Planning Policy Framework.
The chronic undersupply of diverse, high quality
specialist housing is because there is no positive and proactive
planning regime in place for retirement housing and there is no
formal, or consistent, method which local authorities use to assess
the future need for different housing types within their development
It is essential, therefore, that Communities and
Local Government states a commitment to a presumption in favour
of suitable, sustainable housing for older people and that the
Government's plan to incentivise local communities to accept new
housing development includes an enhanced incentive for specialised
housing schemes for older people. This would be a far more effective
way of encouraging the private sector to deliver new and better
forms of specialist retirement housing going forward.
By 2013, 32% of households will be headed by someone
aged over 65 and 75% of older people will be owner-occupiers.
But only 100,000 private properties in the UK are currently classified
as retirement, sheltered or extra care housing. It is the everyday
tasks of climbing stairs, maintaining a house and garden, cleaning
and cooking and going out that pose the greatest challenge of
all the "Activities of Daily Living" in later life.
The location and design of housing has a huge impact on an older
person's ability to live independently, on informal care requirements
and on the levels of respite care needed by older people. These
impacts give rise to significant cost burdens to the public purse.
McCarthy & Stone is the UK's leading provider
of specialist retirement housing. Established in 1963, the company
specialises in the design, construction and management of purpose
built accommodation for sale to older people. McCarthy & Stone
provides 70% of all retirement, extra care and sheltered housing
for homeowners. Our developments offer companionship, independence,
good access to local services and shops, security, a 24 hour care
line and domestic and personal care, and are highly sustainable
forms of housing. 80% of our residents moved from family-size
homes when they purchased McCarthy & Stone flats, releasing
under-occupied housing stock onto the market.
As the leading private sector provider in this sector,
McCarthy & Stone chairs the HBF Retirement Housing Group and
is a member of the newly formed Housing and Ageing Alliance.
The implications of the abolition of regional house
building targets for levels of housing development
A more effective planning policy framework for housing
for older people will be essential for delivering homes for older
people in the future. The publication of the first ever National
Strategy for Housing in an Ageing Society "Lifetime Homes,
Lifetime Neighbourhoods" under the previous Government in
February 2008 marked a significant step in the right direction.
The National Strategy recognised the role of the private sector
and the importance of providing homes for older owner occupiers,
in addition to social tenants.
To deliver more homes for older owner occupiers,
the Strategy made a commitment to "a new emphasis on the
role of planning in addressing the housing needs of older people
within regional spatial strategies, local development frameworks
and sustainable community strategies". Some Regional
Spatial Strategies did attempt to assess the implications of their
ageing populations on future infrastructure requirements. However,
the charity Care and Repair England, in a 2008 survey of Regional
Housing Strategies, argued that "Given the fact that the
ageing of the population is the major driving force in household
growth in most areas, we do not consider that any of the strategies
sufficiently address population ageing."
The abolition of Regional Strategies will provide
a clear signal of the importance attached to the development and
application of local spatial plans, in the form of Local Development
Frameworks, Core Strategies and other Development Plan Documents.
The current PPS3 simply does not go far enough when it states:
"Local Planning Authorities should plan for
a mix of housing on the basis of the different types of households
that are likely to require housing over the plan period. This
will include having particular regard to:
The accommodation requirements
of specific groups, in particular, families with children, older
and disabled people."
In the Conservative Housing Green Paper, "Strong
Foundations", published April 2009, it was suggested that
provided a community can agree on the size and type of housing
development that it wants, it will get a mandatory presumption
in favour of the development from the local planning authority.
The planning system proposed by the Conservatives before the election
would be underpinned by a predisposition in favour of sustainable
development. In our view this offers a genuine opportunity
for local communities, many of whom have rapidly ageing populations,
to plan strategically for better, more sustainable housing for
local older people.
But, with so many competing interests for scarce
land and with the additional financial constraints of delivering
specialist and extra-care housing, "localism" alone
will not address the housing needs of owner occupiers in later
life, who need the right living conditions to keep increasing
health and domestic care levels to a minimum. To date local authorities,
even though they may have a local Housing Strategy for Older People
in place, do not plan for private sector housing or care options.
We cannot see how, without some central government guidance,
there will be any guarantee that this situation will change or
how local authorities will find the resources or motivation to
address the needs of older people in their strategic plans.
It is essential, therefore, that the department
of Communities and Local Government states a commitment to a presumption
in favour of suitable, sustainable housing for older people.
This would be a far more effective way of ensuring that local
authorities encourage the private sector to deliver new and better
forms of specialist retirement housing going forward, thus helping
to meet the housing needs and aspirations of the ageing population.
The likely effectiveness of the Government's plan
to incentivise local communities to accept new housing development,
and the nature and level of the incentives which will need to
be put in place to ensure an adequate long-term supply of housing.
Will the proposed incentives be adequate or appropriate?
McCarthy & Stone supports the principle of the
Government's plan to incentivise local communities to accept new
housing development but fears that such incentives will not work
unless they are set at a high level and/or supported by a strong
planning policy presumption in favour of housingin particular
a presumption in favour of housing designed to meet identified
needs, including affordable housing and specialist housing for
Whilst details are yet to be issued with regard to
the intended incentive scheme ("new homes bonus scheme"),
it is McCarthy & Stone's understanding that the scheme is
likely to be based upon principles that for every new house granted
planning consent, the local authority in question will receive
a bonus of 100% equivalent council tax each year for a six year
period and that in the case of affordable housing, the bonus will
be 125% of council tax per home, per year over the same period.
The previous Government commissioned an "Innovation
Panel" to consider what further reform is needed to ensure
that new build specialist housing meets the needs and aspirations
of older people of the future. The report entitled "HAPPIHousing
our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation", published in
December 2009, advised that "The time has come for a national
effort to build the homes that will meet our needs and aspirations
as we all grow older" and that "we should all
plan ahead positively, creating demand for better choice through
a greater range of housing opportunities". The Panel
"Central Government prioritises the building
of new homes for our ageing population as a key component of its
housing, health and care policies".
If we are to meet the existing and increasing housing
needs of the ageing population then the proposed bonus scheme
should treat specialist housing for older people in the same way
that it is likely to treat affordable housingie there should
be an additional incentive to local communities to accept new
purpose designed housing schemes for local older people, recognising
the wide-ranging social and economic benefits that accrue from
this type of specialist housing including, in particular, the
release of existing under-occupied family houses. (Currently some
37% of all households in the UK under-occupy, but with half of
these (3.3 million homes) in the 50-69 age group). Without
such an additional incentive and a presumption in favour of suitable,
sustainable housing for older people, local planning authorities
are likely to continue to fail to give due consideration to the
community benefits that accrue from providing better housing for
the local older population and will not therefore, help facilitate
better housing choice for this important, growing sector of the
See the comments.