By 2050, 25% of the population will be aged over 65, yet there is a shortage of appropriate housing for older people. According to the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA) half of the over-55’s considering a move as they plan their futures are deterred because they can’t find properties to suit their aspirations.
Policymakers fail to understand how much older people contribute to society, with many continue working well into their seventies and even eighties. They frequently have childcare responsibilities, ferrying grandchildren to and from school and looking after them during holidays because their parents have demanding jobs.
Many older people are also very community-oriented, helping with Neighbourhood Watch, becoming councillors at parish or regional level. Their knowledge and commitment is crucial to organising local sports clubs and allotments, as well as volunteering at National Trust properties, in museums, and food banks. They can also be relied upon to support local shops, pubs and restaurants at a time when so many High Streets are in decline.
So, a Surrey council’s recent decision to refuse a planning application for a flat development for the over-65s on the grounds that it would ‘undermine a town’s vitality’ possibly appears to be mistaken and may also breach the Equality Act.
Fortunately, the majority of local authorities are only too pleased to welcome quality developments, enabling the over-55’s to downsize in comfort and as part of a community, with greater freedom to travel, which is on so many retired people’s wish list, whilst releasing their properties for families.
Alternatively, people approaching retirement who own family homes are increasingly deciding to share their property with their children and grandchildren, releasing equity to either extend or build within the garden, creating appropriate independent accommodation. Always consult architects to maximise the space and good design, benefiting the whole family.
Over the long term, this option can reduce the need to transfer to a care home in old age, because family members will be on hand for daily support and company, whilst all parties retain independence, avoiding loneliness and retaining much-loved pets.
For advice on equity release, our friendly team are available to advise on the most suitable options for the long term. Just give us a call.