Annexe approval provides reminder of the increasing need for retirement housing  

AnnexeThis week our planning application approval for a granny annexe in Sudbury feels particularly pertinent in light of a recent report, which suggests that current trajectories for specialist housing for retired individuals is set to fall short by approximately 160,000 homes by 2030.

The state of the nation’s housing:

The  report titled: The state of the nation’s housing: An ILC-UK Factpack, was prepared by the  International Longevity Centre – UK and highlights that if current trends continue, then housing need figures for retirement accommodation are set to rise to approximately 375,000 homes by 2050. Such findings appear to be as a result of an ever expanding elderly population in parallel with the existing housing shortages and availability of developable land.

Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive, ILC-UK has stated: Government must ensure that planning better supports and encourages adaptations. If older people are to live longer in their own homes we must better support older people to make adaptations to allow them to continue to live independently.

Providing care whilst retaining independence:

This requirement for housing to provide both the necessary care and enable the retention of some independence for the occupant is a common theme of many of the annexe planning applications that we undertake.

The development of small ‘granny annexes’ in the rear garden of a property has become an increasingly common theme to our urban landscapes.  Such units are often small or medium sized outbuildings which provide basic living facilities. This enables independent living for the occupant, whilst ensuring a close proximity to the main dwelling where meals and socialising with the family occur and care levels can be maintained.  Such accommodation is also flexible, as it can come in the form of a converted garage, an extension to the main dwelling or an independent outbuilding.  

However, whilst annexe accommodation would appear to be a potential means of helping to reduce the decline in suitable housing for the elderly, we often find local planning authorities resistant to annexe accommodation over a fear that these could be used as independent dwellings. But the ancillary nature of this type of accommodation can be secured long term via planning conditions, which prevents annexe accommodation being misused in the future.

Our most recent approval at Babergh District Council this week is a prime example of how our planning consultants worked proactively with the council’s case officer to provide  suitable solutions and help mitigate any concerns raised.  The annexe approval has ensured that the applicant’s relative can now be cared for by family members, whilst still enabling a level of independence to be maintained.

Certainly annexe accommodation cannot single handedly solve the retirement housing supply gap, but it can play a part in supporting downsizing and providing ancillary accommodation  with suitable adaptations to provide safe  and secure independent living.

The team at Plainview Planning have been providing planning support on a retainer basis to annexe providers across England for several years. We have an in depth understanding of the planning challenges these schemes can face, but also the immense comfort they can bring to families with ageing relatives who want to ensure the provision of high quality care now and in the future.