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Planning Support for Retirement Living Accmmodation

Updated: Sep 20, 2020

Since September 2019 it is now a mandatory requirement to provide allocation within the housing supply for C2 use. This is great news for landowners in the south east as there is a growing demand for retirement living accommodation. 

This is particularly the case for some sites that would not work for typical residential homes. Sites where retirement living would offer the best possible prospect for planning include golf courses, greenbelt sites at the edge of developments or on manor houses with large gardens or large plots in Conservation areas. But the U.K. later living market is extremely under supplied. A report by Savills indicates that the U.K. is Later living market is significantly at figures around 45%. 

UK Demographics

The demographic figures for the UK indicated that 11,6 million are over 65 and in the next 10 years, some 20 million people representing 30% of the population will be over 60 years old by 2030. Research undertaken by Irwin Mitchell indicates that 66% of local authorities in the UK have no elderly accommodation policy or site allocation at all. Whilst a meagre 10% have both an elderly persons’ housing planning policy and allocated site for such housing. With this in mind one has to ask what are we Planning for?

"Far too many elderly people with equity are stuck in large houses for the simple reason that there is a dire shortage of attractive alternatives."

There are many things that are wrong with our Planning Policies but this has to be one of the biggest missed opportunities, to help balance the housing market. Far too many elderly people with equity are stuck in large houses for the simple reason that there is a dire shortage of attractive alternatives. Why would you leave the comfort of your home and all the facilities only to be institutionalised into a care home? The major issue is that there is no appropriate decent accommodation where a 65+ year old can spend the next 25 to 30 years of their lives. This baby boomer generation that the planning system is failing was born during the 2 decades after the second world war and is associated with living through an unprecedented period of economic, social and cultural improvement. Hence they are the biggest group of affluent property owners with significant equity.

Many counties, coastal towns, rural towns and villages up and down the country could enjoy a resurgency only if they planned to accommodate the elderly. Given that most of the elderly are the baby boomer generation, which is the most prosperous generation with significant spending power. Our planning system is still stuck in the 1940s, with over reliance on charities to provide alm houses and only very limited provision by the councils themselves. Most councils planning policies are centred on providing housing for first time buyers and the building of family homes, largely in the urban centres and new suburban estates.

Providing policies and allocating sites for retirement villages will certainly lead to more family properties being available in the market. It is also efficient use of land as retirement villages will require less space as you will have smaller units catering for those in retirement. Imagine rehousing many elderly people living in 3 and 4 bedroom houses in 1 and 2 bed apartments. Creating communities where people can live active and vibrant lives for the next 25 years. Certainly the health and societal benefits are immense, imagine the jobs created, the coffee and cake shops, community gyms and social clubs. Many Brits leave the country to retire in Europe and places like Florida to live in such communities, but not everyone wants to do that or has the finances to do so. But with the right planning policies and site allocations the UK could make a paradigm shift in the way that it accommodates and houses the elderly population. The health, economic and societal benefits are far too many to ignore.


Retirement villages are a great investment for developers as they are not cyclical and the product is suited for the equity rich downsizers. Adding this to their portfolio offers diversification with their product. So if you think that your site would be an ideal fit for a retirement village, get in touch we have a long list of established developers looking for sites such as yours. Here are some quick guidance notes.

Does your site fit a retirement village profile that we are looking for?

  1. Refused planning for C3 Class in the South East.

  2. Located in on the edge of your town, village or city.

  3. Located in a greenbelt or area of natural beauty.

  4. A manor house with a large garden in the South East of England.

  5. A Farm with structures including barns.

Contact us to discuss your site.

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