In Sadiq Khan’s interview with Property Week, he discussed his desire to amend the London Plan to create an environment in which Londoners can live and work, and help strengthen communities.
Done well, this can address the undeniable need for more housing in the capital and build a stronger, more cohesive society.
As older people are London’s fastest-growing demographic, it is important that the new mayor’s approach to building communities extends to those in later life.
A report commissioned by McCarthy & Stone found that London is the loneliest place in the UK, with 87% of over-55s having felt lonely in the past 12 months.
Similar to the mayor’s notion of creating communities within London, a “cities for all ages” approach enables older people to remain active by providing the stimulus for them to get together in a comfortable and age-appropriate environment. This should be a central part of the revised London Plan.
Features such as age-appropriate homes, street furniture, and how we design our community spaces should all be considered with older people in mind. This considerate social planning could also create a sense of community that tackles loneliness in other age groups.
The “cities for all ages” idea was born out of the community spirit that was recognised by homeowners in our retirement developments around the UK - 85% of our homeowners believe there is a good sense of community in their development, compared with just 51% of those of a similar age living in the wider community.
A rethink of housing development design and planning, to include areas for communities to come together, is vital in ensuring issues such as loneliness are tackled.
There is no doubt that the London Plan needs to urgently consider these new approaches to the design of public and private spaces and buildings, to ensure they are inclusive to entire communities and to encourage healthy, active and sociable lives.
Clive Fenton, chief executive, McCarthy & Stone