A planning classification should be introduced to incentivise the development of retirement communities, a report has suggested.
The new C2R classification, which would fall between C2 (care homes) and C3 (general needs housing), would better enable local councils to include retirement communities in their local plans, whilst reducing complexity and confusion during the planning process for such developments.
It would also help ensure developers do not provide substandard retirement communities.
The C2R classification is one of 11 recommendations in a co-authored report by the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) and the County Councils Network (CCN), which argues retirement communities should be considered as an important preventative role in addressing the adult social care funding crisis and keeping people out of hospital longer.
ARCO estimates if 250,000 people live in retirement communities by 2030, it could free up more than 560,000 bedrooms back onto the housing market.
The document also calls for a government task force on meeting the current and future housing and care needs of people as they age; a health and housing funding pot to support the development of affordable retirement communities in two-tier areas and establishing a framework for more collaboration; and clarity on the description of retirement communities.
Only 0.6% of over 65s – 75,000 people – live in a retirement community in England. However, they could allow more people to live independently for longer and in accommodation that provides care on site, the report, Planning for retirement: How retirement communities can help meet the needs of our ageing population, said.
Cllr David Williams, CCN chairman, said: ‘Retirement communities are currently a fringe part of the adult social care conversation, but the benefits they can bring to people’s wellbeing, reducing unnecessary hospital admissions, and freeing up half a million bedrooms shows that they should be a prime part of the solution to many of the societal challenges we face.’
Nick Sanderson, ARCO chair, said: ‘The retirement community sector is ready to play its part in partnership with councils in delivering good housing-with-care to hundreds of thousands more older people. The coronavirus outbreak has shown just how important it is to have a strong and sustainable care system for older people, ready to take the strain of the NHS at all times.
‘Policy makers should take heed of these recommendations and act now. A housing and care revolution is within reach if the government is prepared to do the right thing.’
The launch of the report came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to ‘build, build, build’ to upgrade infrastructure and skills across the UK. During a speech in the West Midlands he said the government was finalising plans on social care, which would involve building cross-party consensus.