Housing Core Strategy Review Issues and Options

Housing Issues and Options

16 Issue: Specialist Housing: Supported Housing, Housing for Older People

Issues

16.1         Currently, planning policy promotes the ‘Extra Care’ concept as a means for providing housing for Older People. Where Extra Care housing is provided, it is considered as Use Class C2 (Residential Institutions) – and so there is not a standard requirement to provide affordable housing.  Developers can see this as an opportunity for providing general needs housing which is not genuine extra care housing, thus circumventing the affordable housing requirements.  However, ‘Extra Care’ schemes are scrutinised very closely to prevent this from happening, and ensuring certain requirements are met.

16.2         An issue that has become apparent is that an increasing number of elderly people are living in unsuitable accommodation. There is a demand from older people living alone in large homes who want to downscale to smaller more manageable and accessible homes. There is a lack of suitable housing that would support their needs both in the affordable and private housing sector. However, the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) which assesses housing need in the Borough states that there is a need for larger family homes, both in the market and affordable housing sectors compared with supply and that this is where the mix should be concentrated. In view of the fact that only a modest number of smaller units come forward because of defined housing need, should the Council be more flexible in encouraging accessible small units.     

16.3         In theory if more accessible housing units were available, both in the market and affordable sectors the unsuitable family homes currently occupied by the elderly could be freed up to meet the need for affordable family homes in the Borough.

Options

Option 1: Continue with the status quo i.e. support provision of ‘extra care’ housing particularly in the south of the Borough.

Pros

    • The policy will continue to support the provision of ‘extra care’ housing as schemes come forward.

Cons

    • Targeted provision of units that match the specific housing needs of elderly cannot be achieved.

Option2: Supplement the existing policy by allowing, or requiring, a greater proportion of smaller units and reserving these for the elderly both in the affordable and private housing sectors.  The exact mechanism for ensuring this would need to be developed, but it might mean for example, the provision of ‘affordable extra care’ homes within developments, secured through planning obligations.

Pros

    • This will free up a proportion of larger units that can then be used to provide affordable and market family homes.
    • The London Plan supports the approach.

Cons

    • It could be viewed as favouring a specific age group.
    • There is a risk that people from outside the Borough could purchase these units rather than freeing up larger units in the Borough for local need.
    • If bought by people outside the Borough there is a danger that they may be used as second homes and remain empty for a major proportion of the year – this would not contribute to meeting local housing needs.