Are Councils and Inspectors consistent in their approach to extra care retirement housing?
Observations amongst Planners confirm that the different types of older people’s housing are sometimes treated as regular housing and other times as care homes. There is clearly the need for clarity, as explained in a specialist housing article in ‘Planning Resource’.
The House of Lords Committee is currently seeking changes to the planning system to encourage the building of more dedicated housing for older people, whilst having come to the conclusion in its recent report that extra care facilities should be clearly defined as falling into the C2 use class. “Government should issue guidance clarifying that extra care communities fall within the C2 use class as they are capable of delivering high levels of care for older people and should be treated as the same planning use as care homes” it said.
In a recently published report on ‘Fixing the Care Crisis’ former Tory cabinet minister Damian Green also picks up on the perceived lack of guidance/clarity and recommends creating a new retirement homes use class to allow for a more realistic and simpler system.
The problem appears to be that planning authorities can be inconsistent on whether extra care facilities should be regarded for planning purposes as C2 or C3 developments. While the latter are eligible for affordable housing and other Section 106 contributions, C2 housing is not. There are also sometimes inconsistencies between appeal decisions, where Inspectors are taking differing views. However, Inspectors are generally content to allow extra care developments to be classified as C2, provided a sufficient level of care is provided.