Care homes and student housing now form part of housing need assessment

Revisions to the National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) in March 2015 made clear that local planning authorities should include housing for older people and students as part of their housing requirements when formulating Local Plans.

Such revisions are welcome as they further reinforce the need for local planning authorities to not simply justify a five-year land housing supply and blindly meet targets, but ensure that the Local Plan process is centred on place making with community at its heart.

What has changed – care homes:

The NPPG describes the need to provide housing for older people as ‘critical’, citing the Department for Communities and Local Government Household Projections 2013 that the projected increase in the number of households aged 65 and over accounts for over half of new households.

The provision of homes to enable an ageing population to continue to live independently is called for.  Along with an assessment of the level of need for residential institutions such as care homes (Use Class C2), which can now be used against the housing requirement for local plans.

The recent changes to the NPPG go further, stating that:

 ‘In decision-taking, evidence that development proposals for accessible and manageable homes specifically for older people will free up under-occupied local housing for other population groups is likely to demonstrate a market need that supports the approval of such homes.(NPPG: Paragraph: 037 Reference ID: 3-037-20150320)

What has changed – student accommodation:

The NPPG had previously stated in March 2014 that student accommodation in any format, should be included towards the housing requirement.

However, the March 2015 revisions go further stating that local planning authorities should plan for sufficient student accommodation and that encouraging ‘more dedicated student accommodation may provide low cost housing that takes pressure off the private rented sector and increases the overall housing stock.’  The revision also calls on local plan makers to ‘engage with universities and other higher educational establishments to better understand their student accommodation requirements’. (NPPG, Paragraph: 021 Reference ID: 2a-021-20150326).

What does this mean for you?

The changes to the NPPG indicate a renewed awareness that housing figures are not simply about meeting targets but that plan makers should actively engage with the needs, real and projected, of their communities.

Adequate provision of both student and care home accommodation could have an incredibly beneficial impact on meeting housing need by freeing up properties currently under used, whilst also encouraging a healthy balance and continued vibrancy to community groups.

If you have a site for development and would like to discuss you options in relation to these recent changes, Plainview Planning’s land promotion consultants can assist.  We have a strong track record at assessing land housing supply figures, and in promoting sites for inclusion as part of the local plan process.  We also have solid experience of working in the education and healthcare sectors. To see how best our planning consultants can assist, contact us at