Agenda item

From Councillor Claire Daunton

Could the Lead Member for Housing provide details of the Administration's plans for provision of housing for retirement?


Could the Lead Member for Housing provide details of the Administration's plans for provision of housing for retirement?


Councillor Hazel Smith responded that the Council’s Housing Strategy recognised the need for provision of homes of all types for older people, including 5% age exclusive homes and 7% specialist homes and extra care schemes. These negotiations were already going on with developers.


The Extra Care Scheme, Mill View at Hauxton, which was the Affordable Housing element on that site on the A10, was almost complete and Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association was just finalising the care arrangements with the County Council. Cllr Hazel Smith noted that she had visited the scheme over the previous weekend and had picked up some brochures which she could share with any interested Members. The scheme would provide 70 one and two bedroom apartments for affordable rent and shared ownership for people over 55 who needed at least an hour’s care a week. The development included a cafe and roof garden, a guest suite for visitors, and space for a shop and a hair salon, if private enterprises took them on. The rental properties would be advertised through Homelink and allocated via an allocations panel, and the Shared Ownership were either a 75% maximum share, with no rent to pay, or a 50% share with rent making up the difference and an option to staircase up to 75%.


There were expected to be 62 age exclusive homes at Northstowe Phase 2A. Homes England were keen to see a wide provision of different housing types at Northstowe, and were currently planning the town centre phase. They had agreed with the Council to make provision for mature residents in their first phase and had provisionally agreed to 62 flats all for affordable rent. They had yet to identify the provider so design and mix were at an early stage although they expected Urban Splash to construct them. This was a modular building company, which would be involved in delivering some of the Homes England dwellings. Homes England were also in discussion with the NHS about further provision and this might include extra care in various tenures at Northstowe. This all supported the Healthy Town designation of Northstowe.


When talking to developers and Registered Providers about the housing mix on new developments, officers would consider whether homes for older people could be included in the mix, depending on the need in that town or village.  The Council had a solid evidence base of the projected need for housing for older people, from the study commissioned in 2016 from Sheffield Hallam University and details could be passed on to any interested Member.


For the villages where local people wanted more homes for downsizing, the local answer could be an exception site providing some affordable housing for older people.


Councillor Dr. Daunton noted that the Housing Strategy document had referred to the possibility of a retirement village and asked, as a supplementary question, whether this idea was being taken forward?


Councillor Hazel Smith responded that the Housing Strategy had indicated that the Council would explore options to see whether the retirement village model would be suitable for the District. This could be further explored as part of the development of the next Local Plan. The Council would also be speaking with providers to understand the scale, viability, locational needs, population demographics, etc. that a retirement village required and there was also a need to understand the financial implications this may have for the County Council in terms of care costs and how this would fit in with their longer term plans.  Councillor Hazel Smith concluded by commenting on the importance of ensuring that the residents of any retirement village were integrated into the wider community.