Planning for an ageing population

Planning guidance should support the delivery of new well-located, high-quality and well-managed specialist retirement housing across different types and tenures to help address a serious shortage in older people's housing. 

The updated 2014 Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) identified the need to identify and plan for older people’s housing for the first time, but it is not making a sufficient contribution to tackling the shortage in retirement housing or encouraging private sector development.

Local authorities should be required to develop policies to support retirement housing across all types and tenures and identify suitable sites for retirement accommodation in their Local Plans, and monitor the number of sheltered housing being delivered. SPP should be strengthened to place greater emphasis on meeting the needs of our ageing population, particularly through the private sector, and the example set by Aberdeen City council of exempting specialist retirement housing from affordable contributions should be followed by other local authorities to speed up delivery of this type of housing. 

Why the contribution is important

Scotland is not building enough retirement housing to match its ageing population - people over 65 are estimated to increase from 0.93 million to 1.47 million over the next two decades but there are only around 36,000 sheltered housing dwellings. 

The majority of Scotland’s older population are homeowners and wish to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible.  Decent, suitable housing can help promote health, wellbeing, and independence in old age.

Building more retirement accommodation, particularly for homeowners, would add to the housing options available for older people – it would allow them to move out of oversized properties which are difficult to heat, expensive to maintain and often unsuitable for their care needs.

Encouraging specialised retirement housing for homeowners would result in a triple win: improving the lives of older people; removing pressure on health and social care budgets; and stimulating the local housing market and economy.

by olderpeopleshousing on February 02, 2016 at 03:45PM

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Based on : 6 votes


  • Posted by DJJ February 03, 2016 at 13:48

    Planning for an ageing population is important...but that doesn't mean identifying sites for the private sector in the way suggested. The vast majority of the population will never buy into this niche product. The needs of an aging population need to be recognised by all house builders as they develop proposals and as sites are identified in development plans. Variation in house type and size, proximity to facilities by active travel and high quality public transport are far more important. The same solution works for the young as well as families, facilitating true communities rather than poorly connected housing estates (unless you have a car).
  • Posted by Jack_Thorn February 28, 2016 at 20:44

    Yes, we need to plan for changing housing needs but, proceed with caution. In our area a local developer applied for planning consent for a "retirement village" on land that was not zoned for housing in the LDP (it was a mix of green belt and industrial). Despite this being contrary to the LDP, planning permission was granted on the basis that this type of accommodation was needed in the area. Lo and behold, as soon as the land was zoned for housing, it was being offered to national housebuilders and all mention of a "retirement village" disappeared. It remains to be seen how the Local Authority deal with this piece of trickery.
  • Posted by JohnColledge February 29, 2016 at 11:07

    There is no denying that planning is an emotive issue, but is it any wonder there is so much distrust and cynicism on the go when you hear of cases like this?
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