Planning restrictions should be loosened for the sake of an ageing population argues Building's assistant editor
I think it’s about time that section 106 restraints were taken off retirement homes specialists. These companies already provide an essential social good: the provision of homes for the elderly, at a time when the number of pensioners is dramatically rising.
We need more of this type of housing ASAP, not schemes drowning in the quicksand that is the planning process. Too often councils are putting retirement homes construction back by months or years while they try to force the developers into providing a few bicycle sheds for the local youngsters, who are more likely to be on their Playstations anyway.
This only encourages developers to sit on their land. It also adds an unnecessary barrier to entry in a market that is already difficult to break into due to the dominance of McCarthy & Stone.
Some other players are emerging, most notably the sons of John McCarthy - who co-founded M&S - at Churchill Retirement Living. But this is not enough. The sector needs greater competition to build the retirement housing the country desperately needs - and this should start with a rethink of these companies’ planning obligations.