McCarthy & Stone

McCarthy & Stone

March 15, 2013 04:00 ET

McCarthy & Stone Welcomes House of Lords Report: Ready for Ageing?

- Housing needs of older people are not being met

- Reform of the planning system is the only solution

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - March 15, 2013) - McCarthy & Stone, Britain's leading builder of retirement apartments, welcomes the publication of today's Ready for Ageing? report by the House of Lords Committee on Public Service & Demographic Change. As well as submitting a statement, Gary Day, Land & Planning Director of McCarthy & Stone, appeared at the committee's evidence session.

The report confirms that the overall housing market is delivering much less specialist housing for older people than is needed. Confirming McCarthy & Stone's long held view, the Committee advises: "Central and local government, housing associations and house builders need urgently to plan how to ensure that the housing needs of the older population are better addressed, and to give as much priority to promoting an adequate market and social housing for older people as is given to housing for younger people."

Also addressed is the need to stimulate the market in housing for older people through better planning, something which McCarthy & Stone suggests "is not going to happen without reform of the planning system."

Gary Day, Land & Planning Director of McCarthy & Stone, said: "The report highlights that UK specialist housing provision lags woefully behind other developed countries, with just one per cent of housing stock built as retirement housing. In the USA it is 17 per cent and in New Zealand and Australia 13 per cent."

Edwina Currie is a member of The McCarthy & Stone Greater Life Advisory Board, a non-executive advisory board set up to consider a range of key age-related issues, including challenging the massive shortfall in specialist housing. She commented: "Older owner-occupiers are totally ignored by most planners, despite two thirds of this group living in their own homes. We're interested in providing property for people to own, in order to retain equity in the home they live in. Downsizing only works if there's somewhere to go to, yet our build rates are lower now than in the 1980s, with just 106,000 units for ownership built to date.

"McCarthy & Stone's key recommendation to address this is to reform the housing, planning and development system so it encourages the building of specialist homes which older people can own. This would aim to give specialist housing for older people the same level of policy recognition, at a local and national level, that affordable and starter housing for young people currently receives."

The report goes on to observe that: "Local government should signal their intention to ensure better housing provision for older people by insisting that local planning agencies both encourage the private market in housing provision for older people, and by making specific mention of older people's needs when drawing up their planning strategies. Developers of housing for older people would also benefit from a more favourable regulatory environment."

Adds Gary Day: "As quoted in the report, the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Code for Sustainable Homes have serious cost implications. We assert that home builders are competing for sites against other parties who are not subject to the same obligations: for example, supermarket developers do not have enhanced building costs, because there is not an equivalent sustainability code for supermarkets, or an obligation to provide affordable housing."

Note to editors:

Further expert housing comment on the report's findings is available from Gary Day and Edwina Currie.

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