An older couple hiking through a field

Older people’s housing needs “must be embedded in housing planning” says leading housing association

Sovereign Housing Association’s Executive Director Development and Commercial, Tom Titherington, is calling for all housing developers and planners to embed older people’s housing needs into their working practices in a new report, set to be published on Friday 15 January 2021.

He makes the plea as the number of people in England aged 85 and over is forecast to double to 3.2 million by 2041 and by then around one in four of us will be over 65. Yet at present there are only 730,000 retirement housing units across the UK, according to the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) supply falls woefully short.

Put together by the Housing Forum - a cross-sector, industry-wide organisation with public and private sector organisations sectors representing the housing supply chain - the report, titled ‘Older and Wiser’ examines the fact that more than half of these homes, 52%, were built or last renovated over 30 years ago. It asks whether, as we have longer and more active lives, we are thinking about ageing in the wrong way and debates how we should take account of the desires, demands, needs and contribution of this growing demographic.

To address the shortages and the varied requirements of this diverse demographic of older people, the authors of ‘Older and Wiser’ are calling for a greater focus on the problem by government, housing providers and local authorities.  

Tom Titherington, Executive Director - Development and Commercial, Sovereign and Chair of the Housing Forum Working Group which produced the report, said: “Housing for older people in our society is seriously under-catered-for and half of what there is was last renovated more than 30 years ago. By any measure we’re failing miserably to deliver.

“A key objective for our Working Group was to embed the need for housing for older people into the thoughts and plans for all providers of housing development and management. Providing better and more suitable housing provision will enable people to live more independently for longer.

“We want to see this strongly reflected in everything from planning policy to everyday discussions with planners on how to create strong, sustainable places to live.”

Setting out a range of practical suggestions, the guide offers 16 case studies demonstrating diverse solutions and inspired thinking using the experience and knowledge of Housing Forum members. It also shows how housing associations, local councils and private developers who may be looking to develop specialist housing for the first time, can deliver greater numbers and a wider range of accommodation to meet the needs of older people.

Mike Turner, Executive Director, Ian Williams Ltd, and Deputy Chair of the Working Group, said: “In this guide we examine the challenges, look at solutions, and going one step further, have devised a practical model that every housing provider can use today. We hope in doing so we encourage housing providers to take their first steps into the market.”

Turner added: “The principles it espouses, in particular the need to build communities, design for wellbeing, and provide access to outside space, have in the wake of the pandemic proved to be more important than ever.”

The report was prepared with input to the working group of over 25 organisations from across The Housing Forum membership, sponsored by Cross Keys Homes, PRP, whg, Sovereign and Ian Williams and will be available to download following the launch from www.HousingForum.org.uk.

For more details on the report contact: Duncan.Grant@housingforum.org.uk

To speak with Tom Titherington contact: press.office@sovereign.org.uk