Call for government to ‘dismantle barriers’ hampering housing policy and retirement living

Jonothan Croft, Area Land Director for Muller Property Group takes a closer look at the latest review into the state of UK planning and housing..

This month saw the publication of the much-anticipated Mayhew Review: Future Proofing Retirement Living – Easing the care and housing crisis.

A fascinating read, the report by Professor Les Mayhew of the International Longevity Centre, outlined that government must build 50,000 new homes for older people each year, to tackle the UK’s housing and social care crisis.

With the number of over-65s set to exceed 17 million by 2040, Mayhew’s Review states that government should initiate an accelerated programme of constructing older people’s housing with up to 50,000 new units a year, on top of the 7,000 currently built annually. This would result in one in four new homes being constructed for retirees.

Mayhew argues that achieving this level of new homes would free up housing and surplus bedrooms for younger families and first-time buyers, making property across the UK more affordable for all. The report also suggests that new developments could play a major part in revitalising our declining high streets.

All great ideas in principle, but what Mayhew makes painstakingly clear is that our current planning system cannot achieve any of this without radical change. The report proposes a complete overhaul of government’s approach to planning and retirement housing including:

  • Removal of outdated planning designations and infrastructure levies that discourage investment in larger retirement developments.
  • Coordination between housing departments at a district level and the social care function of County Councils.
  • The need for retirement housing with access to care to be factored into local authority plans.
  • Planning departments to put retirement housing on a level playing field with other building developments.

We wholeheartedly agree with Professor Mayhew that our planning and housing policies need overhauling to focus as much on last-time buyers as on first-time buyers. At Muller we are passionate about creating housing opportunities for those on all stages of the property ladder, but we are constantly hampered by an outdated and inhospitable planning system.

Our ageing population is heading towards a housing crisis and the government must address this urgently. Baroness Thornhill summed up our planning and supply issues perfectly in the House of Lords last week as BANANAs: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody. This cannot go on.

We must start delivering more housing NOW. We hope this latest iteration of government has the courage to make the seismic shift the UK so desperately needs.