Why is the UK struggling to deliver high-quality retirement housing?

There has been a consistent under delivery of sheltered housing for the elderly in recent years leading to increasing pressures to overcome barriers. Sheltered housing for the elderly is required in sustainable locations that promote independent living, typically in the hearts of towns and villages. Despite the high demand, due to an increase in the number of people over the age of 60, there is evidence outlined in The Planner that a range of barriers are causing this under delivery.

Firstly, retirement housing developments generally depend on previously developed land in sustainable communities. However, there is significant competition for these sites as they are also ideal for student accommodation, supermarkets, health providers and residential development. The lower saleable floorspace of retirement housing, as a consequence of the required communal space, means it is competing with more commercially viable uses. Retirement developers are therefore less likely to obtain the land.

Furthermore, retirement housing has been considered use class C3 since 1987, unlike care homes which are considered use class C2. Thus, both are CIL liable and required to make affordable housing contributions. Again, the lower saleable floorspace of retirement housing makes the additional outgoing finances less viable.

These issues need to be recognised and addressed in policy, making it easier to obtain suitable land that is more viable for development. Provisions of retirement housing are socially important in terms of reducing loneliness among elderly people and ensuring they have suitable housing for their needs, consequently alleviating healthcare pressures.

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