162% increase in planning applications for new retirement developments in five years

17 Oct 2016 | 08:16 am | 2 min. read

Planning applications for new retirement developments have increased by circa 162 per cent* between 2010 and 2015, research from Pinsent Masons has found. However, the firm believes this will not continue at such a high rate unless the Government creates new planning guidance and concentrates efforts on housing for the ageing population.

Currently many local authorities pigeon hole retirement and extra care housing as a C3 planning use – the same as general housing. This brings with it constraints and burdens as regards the planning regime which in many cases are not appropriate given the end occupiers.

Furthermore local authorities do not allocate land specifically for retirement and extra care housing, so there is competition for such land by general needs housing developers as well as specialist retirement providers.

Care Homes sit in a separate planning class, C2 and Pinsent Masons believes that by creating a separate use class for retirement and extra care homes this will encourage more developers into the sector, make promotion of schemes quicker and ensure we hit the national need for such housing provision.

Rebecca Warren, Planning Partner at Pinsent Masons, said: "It would not be difficult for the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order to be amended to include a separate class for retirement and extra care housing yet the impact could be extensive. 

"Local Authorities should be required to assess housing need with a separate use class rather than elderly provision become lost in the melee of general housing need figures. The impetus would then be on the Local Authorities to find sites specifically with the elderly in mind and this will help alleviate the competition from the general housing market. Private Rented Sector developers are similarly pushing for their own separate asset class."

Pinsent Masons says that Local Authorities should look to create housing zones with retirement and extra care as the focus depending on the local demographic needs.

Warren added: "Our population is ageing and even Brexit won't change that. If we can get the older generation into the right housing and free up the family housing market this will certainly help with our housing crisis.

"The Government could also look to create incentives for the older population to move, such as reducing or removing stamp duty charges on the buyer of specialist elderly housing to lower the cost of moving­­­. A distinct asset class will readily enable the Government to identify those qualifying properties where this stamp duty incentive could apply which will help risk of duty avoidance."

Real Estate Partner Simon Gardiner commented: "The retirement market has been growing rapidly but compared to the US, Australia or New Zealand we're still way behind in our housing provision for the elderly population. It's important that the Government realises they can help to keep this market worth investing in, as the business case is there for developers and investors, whilst also helping free up the housing marketing and provide homes for ageing population."

*Data was collated from the planning applications made by the UK's leading retirement housing developers, Churchill and McCarthy & Stone. 

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