Telford & Wrekin Council is using its planning policy to advise its objectives to deliver the right mix of housing for older people and disabled people.
The council is using its planning policy to advise its objectives to deliver the right mix of housing for older people and disabled people.
The council’s vision is of homes and communities that are inclusive, offering people places to live that meet their needs and provide them with independence, choice and control over their daily lives. The council is working closely with local housing associations, developers, and other organisations to ensure that there are good quality homes available for all people.
The borough’s population is expected to increase from around 176,000 people to over 196,000 over the next decade, with over half of this population increase expected in the over-65 age group. The proportion of working age adults who report having a long-term illness or disability is higher than the national average and increases with age, rising from 7.6 per cent of 25–34-year-olds to 29.6 per cent of 55–64-year-olds. People aged over 65 years old also report higher levels of long-term limiting illness or disability than the national average and rates increase with age, from 39 per cent of people aged 65-69, to 86 per cent of those aged over 85.
Inclusive, spacious and accessible homes are important for everyone, allowing a home to be used throughout our entire lives as our needs change however only 9 per cent of England’s housing stock has basic accessibility features. New homes should therefore not only be ‘beautiful’ but should also offer a good level of access and adaptability for people to live in or to visit. This will help to improve mental well-being, transform people’s lives for the better and save vital public funds.
The council is taking a proactive and positive role in delivering ‘better homes for all’. To support the council’s strategic approach to ensuring people have access to the type of homes they need, it has adopted an overall Housing Strategy 2020-25 which includes an objective of providing homes to support and empower their most vulnerable people. To support this objective further the council has developed a Supported and Specialist Housing Strategy and Homes for All, a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), which seeks to use planning policy as a mechanism to provide accessible, supported and specialist housing in Telford and Wrekin.
The council’s approach
This SPD sets out the council’s long term vision to ensure that all new homes are accessible, adaptable and well-designed to enable people to live independently and comfortably. The SPD includes:
- clarity about the need for and the different types of accessible and adaptable housing and supported and specialist housing sought in the borough
- the building standards that apply to accessible and adaptable, supported and specialist housing
- guidance on the location of accessible housing on development sites
- types of supported & specialist housing required
- design and site selection guidance for supported and specialist housing schemes
- setting out how the council will work with partners to deliver supported and specialist housing.
The purpose of this SPD is to drive the market in delivering supported and specialist housing that meets the evidenced needs in the borough. The guidance should shape investment opportunities through the type, location and design of accommodation provided.
Traditionally, specialist needs housing has often been thought of as bungalows and apartments, but the range promoted continues to grow and evolve. It is important that a mix of housing options are available in the borough to widen the local offer, enhance the resilience and prosperity of local communities and address the different needs of residents of all ages including those with disabilities or other care/support needs.
The impact of an ageing population is one driver of policy objectives to increase the supply of accessible and adaptable homes, however the council recognises that accessible homes are required by many other citizens including working age/younger adults with physical disabilities and other people who may need an accessible home for other reasons.
Based upon evidence of need the council has determined that accessible and adaptable housing to the M4 (2) and M4 (3) standards are required to help address the changing needs of households in the borough. Based on local evidence in relation to housing need the council has set out its requirements for accessible, adaptable and wheelchair user dwellings:
- requirement M4(2) Category 2 (accessible and adaptable dwellings)
- market housing: minimum 20 per cent of provision
- affordable housing: minimum 45 per cent of provision
- requirement M4(3) Category 3a and 3b (wheelchair user dwellings):
- market housing: minimum 3.5 per cent of provision
- affordable housing: minimum 5 per cent of provision