Policy D4

Policy D4: Housing for Older People and People with Disabilities

D4.1: In order to help meet the needs of the ageing population in Our Neighbourhood, 10% of private and intermediate housing on sites of 10 housing units or greater must be of types and design appropriate for older people. Accommodation that would meet this requirement are:

  1. level access flats; or
  2. bungalows; or
  3. sheltered housing; or
  4. extra-care schemes.

D4.2: Adaptations to houses and flats to enable a resident to continue to live there rather than go into a nursing or residential care home will be permitted providing they are in keeping with the building and its surroundings.


4.155 The NPPF (para.50) covers the provision of a mix of housing meeting the needs of different groups in the community, including older people and people with disabilities. The NPPF Annexe 2 defines the housing needs of older people as: “People over retirement age, including the active, newly-retired through to the very frail elderly, whose housing needs can encompass accessible, adaptable general needs housing for those looking to downsize from family housing and the full range of retirement and specialised housing for those with support or care needs.” The NPPF notes that:

The need to provide housing for older people is critical given the projected increase in the number of households aged 65 and over accounts for over half of the new households (NPPF PPG para. 021 ID: 2a-021-20160401)

4.156 The increase in the numbers and proportion of the population that are in the older age groups is a challenge across many areas of national policy, not just housing. Locally, it has been highlighted in our consultations as a key issue for our Neighbourhood Plan (Durham City Neighbourhood Planning Forum, 2015). Accordingly, we have set out this policy to implement the expectations of the NPPF and of Parliamentary Committees and pressure groups.

4.157 Durham County Council’s (2016d) strategic housing market assessment surveyed housing needs for older people:

… modern properties aimed at the elderly, dementia schemes, extra care schemes, ground floor apartments and 2 bed bungalows were highlighted as key areas. In terms of stock shortages amongst older people stakeholders recognised; energy efficient homes for life, extra care facilities, sheltered accommodation and affordable rent schemes as priorities. (para 6.16 )

4.158 As well as providing for older people in new builds through the policy set out above, much of the existing housing stock in Our Neighbourhood could be suitable for older people either as it is or by adaptations and conversions. This is also a good use in principle for surplus PBSAs (purpose built student accommodation).

4.159 New provision for older people should meet particular criteria relating to access to shops, medical services and other essentials, either by being close or by being on a readily accessed public transport and appropriately designed and sited footpaths and cycle paths. Of the specific sites listed in Policy D1, sites D1.2 (John St) and D1.5 (Government offices) would be appropriate.

4.160 The 2011 Census gives a figure of 3% of the population of Durham City who are sick or with disabilities. As with older people, the aim of this policy is to enable independent living in a person’s own home. One way is through adoption and use of the relevant optional housing regulations. Housing regulations cover accessible and adaptable dwellings (M4(2) Category 2: UK Government, 2016). This comprises the optional requirement of:

(1) Reasonable provision must be made for people to—

(a) gain access to; and

(b) use, the dwelling and its facilities.

(2) The provision made must be sufficient to—

(a) meet the needs of occupants with differing needs, including some older or disabled people; and

(b) to allow adaptation of the dwelling to meet the changing needs of occupants over time.

4.161 We would strongly encourage developers to implement this housing regulation in building new houses or renovating existing houses. We also urge Durham County Council to adopt these optional requirements in policies in the forthcoming County Local Plan. (NPPF PPG paras. 005 to 007, 009 to 012 ID: 56-005-20150327; 008, ID: 56-008-20160519).

4.162 Recognising both that people often wish to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, and that in any case places may not be available in care homes, this policy facilitates adaptations to allow people to continue living independently for as long as possible. The County Council’s Older Persons Accommodation and Support Services Strategy (Durham County Council, 2010c) supports this approach. In making adaptations it will not usually be possible to bring the accommodation up to the standard of building regulations for access to and use of buildings (M4(1) Category 1: Visitable dwellings; M4(2) Category 2: Accessible and adaptable dwellings; M4(3) Category 3: Wheelchair user dwellings (UK Government, 2016), but this should be regarded as a target to be approached as far as is possible. Sometimes the only practical way to adapt a home to allow somebody to continue living there will be by carrying out work that is not acceptable as a permanent modification. The policy permits this to be done as a temporary expedient.

4.163 Particular policies for the provision of nursing homes and residential care homes are set out in community Policy C6.

Next section: Policy D5: Meeting Other Housing Needs

4 Responses to Policy D4

  1. Durham City Access For All Group says:

    We agree that there should be a policy regarding housing for elderly and disabled people in the Neighbourhood Plan. The policy rightly recognises the need for elderly and disabled people to be fully part of the community in which they live. They should therefore be able to enjoy the benefits of the community and its environment as much as any other member. We agree than when considering suitable City sites for houses for elderly and disabled people, proximity to the City’s facilities is of course important, but proximity does not necessarily mean accessibility. Safe and easy access to facilities and services using accessible public transport and well-designed safe footpaths, are what really matter.

  2. Mathew Teale says:


  3. Sidegate Residents' Association says:

    The SRA fully supports this policy and would like consideration to be given to the development of Durham as a dementia friendly city. This would have implications beyond housing.

  4. John Pacey says:

    POLICY D 4
    I strongly support this Policy, but imagine it will not be possible for the Plan to make a quantum of difference to the level of provision.