Ministers from three departments have met in the last week to attempt to find a way to tackle the looming crisis in housing for older people

Nick Boles

Planning minister Nick Boles told a fringe event at the Conservative party conference in Manchester that he attended a meeting with housing minister Mark Prisk, care and support minister Norman Lamb, and disabled persons minister Esther McVey, which he said was to discuss how to encourage the construction of more homes for older people.

Boles said: “One thing that mystifies me, given that there are few things as predictable as how our demographics are going to change, yet it seems bizarre how little specifically designed housing there is for older people.”

He said was currently telling local authorities to evaluate proposals for housing designed for older people differently to mainstream housing, in order to prevent it being made unviable through excess planning charges.

He said that when calculating Community Infrastructure Levy charges councils should not include communal space in the area of the development because it was an extra amenity that mainstream housebuilders did not have to provide.

He said: “If an older persons housing developer is being charged the same amount of CIL as a housebuilder then they’ll be at a severe disadvantage in the market. “I’m giving a strong indication to local authorities that they need to treat them differently.”

Boles also suggested that building housing for older people could be part of a solution to revitalise failing town centres.

In separate fringe session dedicated to the issue, the planning director of Churchill Retirement Living, Andrew Burgess, said he had written to both communities secretary Eric Pickles and housing minister Mark Prisk to request a separate planning use class for retirement homes in order to address the sector’s viability issues.

Speaking at the same event Claudia Wood, deputy director at Demos, said the UK was entering “nothing less than an older persons’ housing crisis.”