Tetlow King Planning Involved in Understanding and Encouraging more Housing and Care Solutions for the Ageing Population

November 23, 2016 12:23 pm Published by

In speaking at the Retirement Living 2016 Conference, organised by Property Week, in London on 9th November 2016, Robin Tetlow, Chairman of Tetlow King Planning, outlined a range of solutions to the planning problems being experienced by the retirement housing, extra care and continuing care community sectors.

Robin set out the main issues as being:

  • Housing demands and needs of older people are being neither fully understood nor properly established in local authority Strategic Housing Market Assessments. There is insufficient recognition of older people as a fundamental component of the national housing crisis.
  • The full range of potential market solutions, especially ‘extra care’ models, are not well understood by planners.
  • The planning benefits of delivering genuine housing choice to older people are not well understood by planners.
  • There is a lack of national planning policy guidance and priority to older persons’ housing/ care provision.
  • The outmoded 1987 Use Classes Order acts as a barrier to innovation and creates difficulties around C2/ C3 definitions.

Robin proposed inter alia the following solutions:

  • As part of the ongoing review of the National Planning Policy Framework the weight to be attached to older persons’ housing/ care provision as a material consideration in both plan making and deciding planning applications should be enhanced.
  • Either the Uses Classes Order should be recast so that there is a separate Use Class for specialist retirement housing or more realistically a new government circular should be issued giving guidance on the proper interpretation of Use Class C2 in the modern market.
  • All needs and demands should be properly assessed and included as part of the overall five year housing requirement.
  • Separate numerical targets should be included in the development plans and their delivery regularly monitored. There should also be targets relative to larger housing schemes, such as urban extensions, to ensure mixed communities and the promotion of ‘lifetime neighbourhoods’.
  • Enabling criteria based policies should be included in development plans, setting out when and where schemes will be approved, as well as the allocation of particular sites.
  • There should be scope for ‘exceptional’ consents, a principle already well-established relative to affordable housing, especially for schemes in rural areas.
  • There should be incentives to enable private sector investment and to enable competition; including specific exemptions from affordable housing, Section 106 obligations and the Community Infrastructure Levy.
  • There should be more collaborative departmental and professional working within government and local government between planning, social care, health and housing.

Robin also outlined some things that the industry can do to help itself including:

  • Continue to lobby government for these sorts of changes.
  • Engage more fully in the planning process – particularly in development plans by objecting and presenting alternative wordings to policies to public examinations.
  • Engage more carefully with ‘planning language’ by using terms that have planning relevance and avoiding those that cause unnecessary confusion.
  • Set out clearly defined planning applications.
  • Set out clearly all the planning benefits of particular proposals.
  • Address all potential disadvantages/ harm of particular proposals as fully as possible.
  • Engage up front with the local planning authority, councillors and the local community.

Robin Tetlow has also been involved, as a member of the external steering group, with the recent well- received DWELL report, Designing with Downsizers: the Next Generation of Downsizer Homes for an Active Third Age. published in October 2016.

The DWELL Project (Designing for Wellbeing in Environments for Later Life) captures the findings from a three year project which sought to explore third-agers’ housing aspirations to generate a series of design proposals using a co-design process. The findings reveal that many households would be keen to downsize in later life if there were more attractive options available in the right locations. The research showed strong demand for better quality and more adaptable homes, where people can continue to live and socialise in mixed-age communities.

The report makes a powerful case for the development of a diverse range of age-friendly ‘downsizer’ homes. It is supported by evidence and provides an insightful commentary on the implications for housing designers, developers, and policy-makers. The Housing Learning and Improvement Network (HLIN) have described the report as ‘a must read’.