PPG Updates Consider Housing for Older People
The Government has published updates to the Planning Practice Guidance (“PPG”) to guide Councils in preparing planning policies on housing for older and disabled people.
As has been recognised nationally for some time, the PPG changes recognise that the need to provide housing for older people is critical. With these changes coming at a time when people are living longer and the percentage of older residents in our communities is ever growing, the need for action is pressing.
There is an ever increasing need to provide more high-quality accommodation in the senior living sector. Such provision will enable older people to make positive proactive choices earlier in life, rather than being forced to be reactive to their changing circumstances. It frees up much needed housing for the younger generations and ultimately saves the government money in respect of future health and social costs.
The inclusion of planning guidance on this matter is most certainly a step in the right direction, however the PPG leaves it to the local authority to consider into which use class a particular development may fall. It states that “when determining whether a development for specialist housing for older people falls within C2 (Residential Institutions) or C3 (Dwellinghouse) of the Use Classes Order, consideration could, for example, be given to the level of care and scale of communal facilities provided”.
The PPG goes on to state that plans should set out the contributions expected from developers, which should include setting out the levels and types of affordable housing provision required. However, significantly no further guidance is provided regarding the issue of affordable housing is provided.
It appears that it has been left up to applicant to demonstrate whether circumstances justify the need for a viability assessment at application stage.
The PPG is clear in stating that local plans need to provide for specialist housing for older people where it can be demonstrated that a need exists. It is however for a local planning authority to determine whether or not to allocate land for such uses. Allocating sites can provide greater certainty for developers and encourage the provision of sites in suitable locations.
It is clear that these updates signal a move in the right direction, but the question remains if enough is being done to provide quality housing options for our older generations.