Planning reforms 'to hit OAP homes'

A group of leading housing providers today warned the Government its proposed planning changes will fail to deliver enough homes for older people.

Chief executives from from developers Anchor, McCarthy & Stone, Audley Retirement and Housing 21, signed a joint letter saying that the draft National Planning Policy Framework did not address the care needs of the UK's ageing population.

The Government was told that two thirds of planning applications for new retirement housing schemes were refused first time round, while fewer than half of councils had housing strategies for older people.

Howard Phillips, chief executive of McCarthy & Stone, said: "We are pleased with the Government's overall approach but it does not go far enough to deliver the sea change in policy that is required to build more specialist housing for older people.

"If we are serious about providing suitable housing for older people to live in while addressing their care and support needs, it's vital the Government looks at making changes."

Jane Ashcroft, chief executive of Anchor, said: "There is a wealth of evidence demonstrating the relationship between appropriate housing and health in old age. More must be done to ensure people are able to enjoy their later years in homes which meet their needs."

Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors (IoD), said: "The IoD strongly supports the Government's aim to produce a planning system which recognises the many benefits of development.

"The presumption in favour of sustainable development means that where applications fit with local plans, they should be granted as quickly as possible.

"Where plans are not in place, this should not be a reason for denying permission. Planning reform will provide a boost not only for developers and the construction industry, but also for businesses wishing to extend or improve their properties and for people wanting to buy their own homes.

"We are also pleased that the Government is trying to tackle the cost and uncertainty caused by the oppressive weight of current planning policy and guidance. The system has become unwieldy and almost impossible to approach for anyone who is not an expert."