Planning for an ageing population

Today Paul Teverson, Head of Public Affairs and Public Relations,  McCarthy and Stone join us to talk about housing options for older people now and in the future.

landscaped gardens

Views of our landscaped gardens

In the 2011 census, it was revealed that 890,000 Scots, or 17% of the total population, are over 65.

64% of older Scots wish to remain homeowners, yet there are only 3,600 retirement homes for them to purchase in Scotland[1].  By 2035, the number of older Scots is estimated to increase to 1.43 million, 23% of the total[2].  The numbers do not add up, particularly when 1 in 3 older people would be happy to move to retirement housing if it was available[3].  Something has got to change to make sure there are enough specialised homes for older people in Scotland.

And it looks like something might.

The new Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) set to be unveiled in June this year, for the first time mentions older people.  It proposes that local authorities should identify housing requirements for older people, including the need for retirement housing, and should then develop plans to support their delivery and allocate specific sites.

This will allow for a greater increase in the development of specialised properties for older people to meet a growing demand.

As the market leader in retirement housing, we’ve built more than 3,000 properties in Scotland.  But, we want to see more competition and we believe these planning changes will encourage it.  This will provide far greater choice for people in their later life.

Why are specialised retirement homes different to traditional housing?  Our properties are age restricted, meaning that buyers have to be over 60 (or 70 in our Assisted Living developments).  They are built around the needs of older people, including level-access throughout the building, raised plug sockets, 24-hour security and CCTV and easy-to-use taps and fittings.  Furthermore, our Assisted Living developments provide flexible care packages for homeowners who want a little helping hand, while retaining their independence.

While we welcome the changes and opportunities that will arise from the SPP, we also acknowledge the challenges that remain when developing retirement housing, for example the availability of land.  Older people want to live in central locations close to shops, amenities and services.  Such sites are in increasingly short supply and we’re often competing for them against mainstream housing, retail and commercial developers who face lower planning and build costs.

We also want older people to be at the forefront of town planning when local authorities are preparing their local housing plans.  We would urge all older people to get involved in their local areas to encourage council officials to support specialised retirement accommodation where possible.  Write to your local councillor or MSP, and whenever a retirement development is proposed in the town, make sure you pass your comments to the council.

We believe that the implementation of the SPP will provide a crucial first step, but we want to keep the journey going.  We will keep pressuring central and local government to give older people’s housing the respect it deserves, in order that older Scots can have the choice of home they deserve in their later life.


[1] Scottish Government, Review of Sheltered Housing in Scotland, 2008

[2] Scotland’s Population 2011, The Registrar General’s Annual Review of Demographic Trends, 157th Edition

[3] A Better Fit: Creating housing choices for an ageing population, Shelter, 2012

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