Ministers consider letting builders fulfil affordable housing obligations with sheltered accommodation

Ministers are considering a proposal to allow housebuilders to satisfy planning obligations by building homes for older people in place of affordable housing. As these homes can be sold for more money than housing associations are willing to pay, the move may unlock sites closed by the recession.

The idea is one of a number being considered by a panel that includes Berkeley Group chairman Tony Pidgley.

The review is also likely to call for a revamp of the Lifetime Homes standard, which is due to become mandatory for dwellings built after 2013. This sets out 16 features designers have to include to make homes suitable for older people.

The group, called the Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation, is due to present its recommendations to ministers at a meeting on 19 October, for publication at the end of November.

So many of the country’s four-bed homes are occupied by single pensioners source close to the review

Kevin McGeogh, senior policy manager at the Homes and Communities Agency, which is managing the review, declined to comment specifically on the idea of exchanging affordable housing quotas for older people’s homes.

He said: “We’re looking at the big picture: how do we provide for people in an increasingly ageing population? Certainly, looking at flexibility in the planning system is one option.”

A source close to the review said: “So many of the country’s three- or four-bed homes are occupied by single pensioners, creating a complete imbalance in the housing stock.”

Lord Best, who is chairing the review, confirmed the panel would be considering whether changes were needed to the Lifetime Homes standard.