Call for fewer social obligations to encourage building units for elderly

Glenveagh claims strict design standards for apartments could be relaxed for older people

Glenveagh Homes says providing housing for older people could be used as a means of satisfying a builder’s social housing obligations. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Glenveagh Homes says providing housing for older people could be used as a means of satisfying a builder’s social housing obligations. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

One of the largest homebuilders in the country suggested relaxing social housing obligations for developers in order to spur the construction of specialist housing for older people.

The builder, Glenveagh Homes, also said that rigorous building design standards set down for apartment blocks could be relaxed for specialist older persons units.

The suggestions were made by Glenveagh as part of a consultation being run by the Government on housing for older people.

In its submission to the Department of Housing, Glenveagh wrote that the department could “consider waiving the requirement to satisfy part V”– referring to the planning laws which govern a developer’s social housing obligations.

The builder suggested that local authorities could be given the power to “include no requirement or a greatly reduced requirement for part V units in OP [older person] housing in their development plans”. The company also suggested that providing housing for older people could be used as means of satisfying a builder’s social housing obligations.

The Government’s strategy for housing older people is due to be published today. It is widely expected to include new design and build standards for older people’s housing, as well as a range of incentives to encourage older people to move out of family homes and into smaller units in an effort to free up supply.

In its submission, Glenveagh wrote that local authorities “should be afforded the flexibility to permit deviations” from building standards that apply to the wider market. The company argued that separation distances between blocks could be “less of an issue” for older people, “as some overlooking/surveillance may be desirable”.

It suggested that requirements that apartments be dual aspect – meaning that units in a development have to have windows facing in more than one direction – could “be of less concern as gallery access and atrium-type layouts may be welcome as a way of encouraging interaction between residents”.

The building industry has consistently voiced concerns about strict building standards, including dual-aspect and separation distances, saying that they make development economically challenging and add to the cost of building housing units – especially apartments.

Among the other ideas suggested by Glenveagh was a reduction in stamp duty or VAT for buyers of dedicated older person’s housing, on the basis that the volume of transactions would be low, and therefore have a limited impact on revenue for the exchequer.