Woking Borough Council

CS13 Older people and vulnerable groups

National policy requires local authorities to meet the specific accommodation needs of older people and other vulnerable groups. Following the national trend, the Borough is forecast to see growth in the proportion of older people and older person households (around 5,000 more people aged 65+ are forecast to live in Woking Borough by 2026). It is important that the Council provides increased housing choices in terms of specialist accommodation, and appropriate dwellings that are suitably located close to public transport and other key local services. In addition, offering attractive alternative housing choices for older people and other vulnerable groups will assist the Council in freeing-up family sized homes that are currently under occupied.

The `Supporting People' programme is a Government scheme that aims to support people in their own homes so that they can lead more independent lives. In terms of vulnerable groups, the programme covers a number of groups including people who are older, ex-offenders, at risk from domestic violence, homeless, mentally and physically disabled, have alcohol and drug problems, or are young people at risk. The main objective of this programme is to give people the opportunity to improve their quality of life by providing a stable environment which enables greater independence. This includes providing high quality, cost effective, accessible housing and related support services that meet identified need. This is likely to result in the need to develop specific types of accommodation, and address the requirements of wheelchair users, for example.

CS13: Older people and vulnerable groups

The Council will support the development of specialist accommodation for older people and vulnerable groups in suitable locations. The level of need will be that reflected in the latest Strategic Housing Market Assessment. This will include the provision of new schemes and remodelling of older, poorer quality sheltered housing which is no longer fit for purpose.

Existing specialist accommodation will be protected unless it can be demonstrated that there is insufficient need/ demand for that type of accommodation.

New specialist accommodation should be of high quality design, including generous space standards and generous amenity space. At least 50% of schemes should have two bedrooms. Bed-sit development will be discouraged.

The Council will allocate specific sites through the Site Allocations DPD to assist in bringing suitable sites forward to meet need.

New specialist accommodation should incorporate "Lifetime Homes" standards and be capable of being readily adapted to meet the needs of those with disabilities and the elderly. A percentage of new specialist accommodation will be required to be fully wheelchair accessible.

The Council will work with partners in consultation with the community to ensure access to key local services such as public transport and community facilities.

The Council will work with partners to seek to provide the necessary infrastructure to support specialist accommodation, including homes for the elderly. The Council will seek to develop the role of the community centres and where feasible seek to provide new schemes such as community hubs which provide leisure, recreation, and education and community activities for older people and vulnerable groups.

Reasoned justification

There are certain types of residential accommodation which cater for sectors of the community with specific needs. These are often related to the more vulnerable members of society, or those who would benefit from a higher level of on-site support. This need can be divided in to two broad groupings - the growing elderly population, and those who may need specialist social support. The isolation of such groups is not conducive to social inclusion, balanced communities and sustainable development. It is therefore important for these types of development to be located in accessible areas, close to main facilities and public transport routes to best cater for residents, staff and visitors, and promote social inclusion. The Council acknowledges that land values within the urban area can make securing sites for such developments difficult in terms of viability and availability. The Council will allocate specific sites through the Site Allocations DPD to assist in bringing suitable sites forward to meet need.

Evidence from the SHMA shows that over three-quarters of older person only households are owner-occupiers and just over 70% of these households do not have a mortgage. This evidence suggests that there is significant potential for equity release schemes or leasehold accommodation that would meet the needs of older people and would free up larger units for younger families.

A proportion of two bedroomed units for older people will be required as this takes in to account residents' future needs. By ensuring there are a number of larger properties it will take into account the ongoing needs of older people who may require an additional bedroom for a live-in carer or for a family member to stay. This will ensure that older people are able to remain living independently for longer with additional support as a positive alternative to residential care. In providing two bedroomed units, it will also provide an additional incentive to encourage older people who are under-occupying family sized social housing units.

These specialist types of accommodation have specific design requirements, and must for example include generous amenity and space standards. The Council will therefore encourage all new homes to be designed to ensure that they can be easily modified to meet future housing needs, and will require applicants to demonstrate in their design and access statements how design has taken these considerations in to account. The Council will therefore encourage new developments to incorporate the principles of "Lifetime Homes". Further guidance on design which takes into account "Lifetime Homes" standards and wheelchair accessibility standards will be set out in the Quality Design Standards SPD. The Council has demonstrated through a real example at Brookwood Farm that high standards of sustainable construction can be achieved.

Delivery strategy

This policy will be delivered through partnership working, particularly through the Woking Partnership and with Registered Social Landlords, to consider options to address the needs of the elderly population and other vulnerable groups. This will include consideration of the potential allocation of sites in the Site Allocations DPD and exploring opportunities for shared facilities, such as community hubs.

The needs of the elderly population and vulnerable groups will be kept under review through updates to the Strategic Housing Market Assessment and the Extra Care Strategy. Should the monitoring indicators (overleaf) identify that demand outstrips supply; the Council may review the policy and seek to allocate additional sites to meet need.

Details of design considerations for specialist accommodation will be set out in the Design Standards SPD.

Monitoring and review

This policy will be measured against the following indicators and targets annually through the AMR to enable the Council to effectively manage the availability of sites in order to ensure that demand does not outstrip supply.

  • The number of nursing home bed spaces against need.
  • The amount of private sheltered housing for sale against need.
  • The amount of affordable sheltered housing for social rent against need.
  • The number of extra care housing spaces against need.

Key evidence base

  • Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), 2009 produced by Fordhams Research.