The Government has published a major new housing strategy for older people in the South East and said it would allow for ‘a greater choice in addressing the challenges of an ageing population’.
The strategy - Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods: A National Strategy for Housing an Ageing Society - calls for all new homes to include ‘age friendly’ designs, such as wider doors and improved bathrooms from 2013 and for local planners and design experts to create neighbourhoods which better incorporate older people.
New implementation guidelines will set out how developers and councils should carefully consider better paving and kerb design, convenient access to public toilets and amenities, good street lighting, well located bus stops, information services, disabled parking bays and accessible public transport.
Flint said Eco-towns, of which ten are planned nationally, will be the first 'age-friendly cities' and the Olympic Village will also promote inclusive design and lifetime neighbourhoods.
The government said it would invest £33m in providing a handyman service across the country and there would be increased funding through the Disabled Facilities Grant to support adaptations to houses. The government will also establish a new National Housing Advice and Information Service for older people.
Secretary of State Hazel Blears said: ‘Demand for housing is high - being driven to a large extent by older people. Not only do we need to build more homes, but the right kind of homes too. That means 'lifetime homes' suited to families with pushchairs right through to older people in wheelchairs.’
Flint said: ‘This is about giving all older people a better choice. The vast majority of people want to stay independent in a suitable home at they get older. We have a responsibility to support that desire by increasing the housing choices that are available.'
Gerald Eve planning partner Peter Dines welcomed the plans and said the involvement of planners at an early stage would provide a more co-ordinated and forward looking approach to the provision of homes of the right quality and type for the rapidly ageing population.