Demand for retirement housing set to rise
The baby-boom generation is expected to double London’s requirement for specialist retirement housing
A report launched by the London Assembly has warned that the number of people living in the capital aged over 85 is set to double during the next 20 years, causing a dramatic rise in housing need.
There are currently around 60,000 specialist housing spaces for the elderly in the capital. But as London’s post-war baby-boom generation reaches retirement an additional 80,000 will be needed.
The report argues that by creating specifically-designed retirement housing costs to the NHS would be reduced and family homes would be freed up for younger generations.
This specialised housing for older people would provide self-contained homes with access to both support and care.
The Mayor has been urged to look at alternative models such as co-housing and co-operatives to produce the much needed housing which is typically more expensive to build than standard housing.
Darren Johnson, chair of the London Assembly Housing Committee, said: ‘We talk a lot about the housing problems faced by young people, but we shouldn’t forget that the booming population of older people also struggle to find a home they can afford and that suits their needs.
‘To live independently and with a good quality of life, residents need the right sort of housing with key services and facilities nearby. This can improve their health and wellbeing, reducing costs for the NHS and councils’ social care teams. As older people downsize, they will also free up large homes for younger families.
‘The Mayor must act now to ensure that older people, their councils and developers can work together to build the kind of homes and communities that London needs.’
Back in November 2012, the Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation (HAPPI) report which provides the benchmark for specialist housing, recommended that housing for older people should become an exemplar for mainstream housing.
Tom Russell of Tom Russell Architects, winners of the recent McCarthy Stone competition for baby boomer housing, commented: ‘Whilst the demand for sheltered housing and various models of supported housing is growing predictably with our shifting demographic structure, the real untapped demand is for non-institutional retirement housing aimed at younger retirees.
‘The decline in generous final salary pensions and the steady rise in property values over the past 30 years have combined to create the potential for a generation of downsizers. This generation are not looking for specialist later life housing, indeed many would shun the idea of it. They want more conventional housing types that are simply easier to live in and more generous.
‘If we could focus on providing more flexible housing stock that starts to address the lifetime homes agenda, we should be able to allow more people to remain in their own homes for longer and take pressure off the specialist elderly housing that is available’.
Alex Ely, partner at Mae added: ‘Local Authorities are recognising in their needs appraisals that there is growing demand for elderly person housing. They need to start identifying more sites with good access and local services for this type of housing and give greater definition to C2 use class in planning. The HAPPI report has raised awareness of how designs for this sector must to differ from general needs and extra care housing. It is, however, largely reliant on oversees examples. We still need to develop a credible range of high and low density projects that can act as benchmarks of how we can best provide for this need in the UK.’