Policy D4 – 2019 version

Policy D4: Housing for Older People and People with Disabilities

Housing for older people

In order to help meet the needs of the ageing population in Our Neighbourhood, 10% of private and intermediate housing on sites of more than 10 housing units, or of more than 0.4 hectares, must be of types and design appropriate for older people. Accommodation that would meet this requirement are:

  • level access flats; or
  • level access bungalows; or
  • sheltered housing; or
  • extra-care schemes; or
  • housing products that meet the specific needs of a multi generational family.

If this is not feasible on the development site, then the required number of housing units appropriate for older people must be built within, adjacent to or nearby Our Neighbourhood.

Housing schemes that are solely for older people are encouraged and will be supported.

New provision for older people should either be located close to shops, healthcare services and other essentials, or provide access to such facilities by being near a public transport route, as well as being served by appropriately designed and sited pavements and footpaths.

Purpose Built Student Accommodation comprising only self-contained flats, or with blocks/sections of self-contained flats that can be separated from student occupants, should be flexibly designed to enable re-purposing for older people as occupants. Such repurposing must include accessibility provision appropriate for older people and appropriate arrangements for car parking, refuse storage and collection, and management of the flats.

Housing for older people and for people of all ages with disabilities

Extensions to houses and flats, and other building works within the curtilage of a residential property, which are needed to enable a resident to continue to live there rather than go into a nursing or residential care home and which also require planning permission will be permitted providing they are in keeping with the building and its surroundings.

Housing for younger people with disabilities

Provision of units designed for younger people with disabilities within a housing development, and housing schemes that are solely for younger people with disabilities, are encouraged and will be supported.

4.184 Provision of nursing homes and residential care homes are covered in community Policy C4.

4.185 Our Neighbourhood provides a topographical challenge in the provision of housing sites suitable for older people. Section 106 money could be used to provide suitable public transport facilities, pavements and footpaths across Our Neighbourhood that are designed for older people and for people of all ages with disabilities.

4.186 Of the specific sites listed in Policy D1, site D1.1 (John St) would be appropriate for housing for older people.


4.187 The NPPF (para.61) states that: “the size, type and tenure of housing needed for different groups in the community should be assessed and reflected in planning policies (including, but not limited to, those who require affordable housing, families with children, older people, students”. The NPPF Annexe 2 defines the housing needs of older people as:

People over or approaching retirement age, including the active, newly-retired through to the very frail elderly; and whose housing needs can encompass accessible, adaptable general needs housing through to the full range of retirement and specialised housing for those with support or care needs.

4.188 The Government’s Planning Practice Guidance notes that: “The need to provide housing for older people is critical as the proportion of older people in the population is increasing.” (PPG ‘Housing and economic needs assessment’ para. 017).

4.189 The figures in Appendix C show that 33% of the long-term (i.e. non-student) population are retired, and 11% are aged 75 or over. 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 the Plan’s consultations as a key issue for the Neighbourhood Plan (Durham City Neighbourhood Planning Forum, 2015). Accordingly, The Neighbourhood Plan sets out this policy to implement the expectations of the NPPF and of Parliamentary Committees and pressure groups.

4.190 Durham County Council’s (2016c) 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 )

4.191 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.

4.192 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 building regulation standards. These optional building regulations include a standard for 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.

4.193 The Neighbourhood Plan would strongly encourage developers to implement this optional building regulation in building new houses or renovating existing houses. This is optional unless the requirement is implemented through the Local Plan. The developing County Durham Local Plan contains the requirement that housing for older people must be built to Building Regulations Requirement M4 (2) (accessible and adaptable dwellings). It is good practice for new buildings to be checked by a qualified access consultant for accessibility.

4.194 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 extensions to allow people to continue living independently for as long as possible. Additionally, adaptations of existing buildings, which would not be covered by a Neighbourhood Plan, would be very suitable for this goal.

Next section: Policy D5: Meeting Other Housing Needs

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