New PPG Produced Regarding Older People’s Housing

02 July 2019

New Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) dedicated to housing for older and disabled people has been published.

This documentation which was promised in the 2017 Neighbourhood Planning Act was published on 26th June 2019. The guidance highlights the growing proportion of older people in the population, and the need for local authorities to have provisions in place to meet these changes. The following provides a summary of the main issues raised within this guidance.

  • It remains for a local authority to consider into which use a particular development may fall. The documentation references that when determining whether proposals fall into the C2 or C3 classes, consideration could be given to the level of care and scale of communal facilities provided.
  • Housing provided for older people will need to be counted against LPA housing requirements.
  • The document provides advice regarding the range of needs which need to be addressed, confirming that the lifestyles of older people will differ greatly. Such needs can range from accessible and adaptable general needs housing to specialist housing with high levels of care and support.
  • Plan makers need to consider the needs of those who are approaching retirement as well as existing population of older people. An understanding of the range of disabilities is also required as this may generate a range of housing requirements which can change over time. In essence, the PPG defines four categories of housing for older people; age-restricted general market housing, retirement living or sheltered housing; extra care housing or housing with care; and residential care or nursing homes.
  • Reference is made to the issue of design, confirming that inclusive design can help older people live more independently and reduce health and social care costs.

Opinion:The release of this PPG is a positive step recognising that providing housing for older people is critical and that it needs to be considered from the early stages of plan-making through to decision taking. It is evident from a number of sources that there is a clear need for an increase in housing for older people. However, the lack of clarity on planning use classes is disappointing – there are implications here as nursing home use class (C2) generally brings with it exemption from affordable housing obligations, however standard retirement housing is considered as falling under a C3 use and therefore will attract a requirement for affordable housing. It seems clear therefore that this C2/C3 debate will remain a big issue at appeals. There is concern that this lack of planning recognition of the supposed lower financial return on schemes targeting older people, could still prove to the be biggest issue holding back the delivery of homes for older people.