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Planning system hampering better homes for older people

More ‘joined up’ planning needs to be done to provide better homes for an ageing population, a report from the Local Government Association will suggest.

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A draft paper, produced for a meeting between charities, local and central government and housing organisations with the LGA this month, identifies various problems with the planning system in producing homes for older people.

The meeting, with representatives from the Homes and Communities Agency and the Communities and Local Government department, was to identify ways to build better and more cost-effective homes for older people.

Tim Allen, director for analysis and research at the LGA, whose team drew up the paper, said housing departments needed to start thinking in a different way as there will be double the number of over 85s in 20 years’ time.

He said: ‘We need to be more conscious of the needs of the elderly and work that through the system.

‘One of the things that came through in this exercise is cross-sectoral working; we should be working closely with developers of housing. It happens, but we need to do more and better.’

Barriers identified to building adequate homes for the older people in the draft report include:

  • Key local strategies are often developed independently without sufficient consideration of the needs of older people and assessment of the housing need
  • Planners are not involved in providing diversity and choice in housing older people
  • Existing processes for housing adaptations and improvements are too complex
  • There are challenges in engaging with older people – seen as essential – with poor health, limited mobility and poor social networks      

‘We need to think about the way we develop and think about the urban environment and need to be thinking through some practical solutions to some of these issues,’ Mr Allen said.

The LGA will produce the final report in the next few weeks, which the LGA will use in discussion with government departments. 

Picture credit: Jason Bye

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