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The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has released a new report into age-friendly housing, emphasising the importance of well-designed, purpose-built new homes that help elderly residents stay active and independent, amid a growing housing crisis.

RIBA’s report A home for the ages: Planning for the future through age-friendly design follows a report by Habinteg, highlighting a lack of new accessible homes in the pipeline, despite England’s rapidly increasing elderly population.

According to RIBA, within five years, a quarter of the English population will be aged over 60, yet new housing is being built with little regard to the needs of our ageing population.

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The report includes new data from Centre for Towns and ComRes for RIBA, revealing informative demographical insights into the housing landscape and its potential impact on the NHS.

In particular, the research highlights populations in towns and villages across England, inland and coastal, have aged significantly in the last 40 years – a trend that is set to continue – with demand for age-friendly housing outstripping supply.

Additionally, RIBA states that a quarter of over 55s are currently considering moving home but over half feel that the housing options available are inadequate.

Underlining that failure to plan for an older population is putting a huge strain on the public purse due to the health and social care costs of inappropriate housing, the report suggests the cost to the NHS of inappropriate housing for people over-55 is projected to reach £1billion per year by 2041 in first-year treatment alone.

In addition, the Royal Institute points out that the growing crisis also prevents the economy from realising the untapped potential of supporting people to relocate.

Ben Derbyshire, President of RIBA, commented: “Our society is changing dramatically – we are living longer, our families and communities are dispersed, and in too many cases we are cut off from public transport and social infrastructure. Change is necessary in the way we plan, design and build houses to meet the challenge.

“Prioritising age-friendly design not only benefits the over 55s, it is central to tackling the wider housing crisis. Local authorities have largely ignored this need and opportunity, focusing instead on basic, short-term solutions. This is England’s hidden housing crisis. We must encourage more innovation and plan properly for the future.”

Noting that age-friendly design brings wide positive impacts for all generations, RIBA says allowing people to keep socially and economically active for longer and reducing dependence on public services.

To address the severe lack of age-friendly homes, RIBA is calling on the UK Government and the construction sector to tackle this ‘hidden’ housing crisis and is championing the building of homes that enable people to play a more active role in their communities as they age.

“Older people should not feel that they need to move if they don’t want to, but they should have options available to them. We urge policymakers and local authorities to modernise their thinking on housing and consider the differing needs in this country,” added Ben.

The RIBA report recommends ‘mainstreaming’ age-friendly design so that all new-build housing is accessible and adaptable; removing barriers in the planning system; and providing better information and support for people who want to move home, including signposting accessible housing and piloting fiscal incentives to support older people to move home.

Lisa Nandy, Co-founder of Centre for Towns and MP for Wigan, said: “We urgently need to get to grips with the scale of the challenge facing us. An aging population and a widespread failure to understand and deliver the type of housing we need is causing a crisis and our aging towns are at the sharp end.

“A decent, suitable home in your own community is one of the best ways to combat loneliness and prevent conditions like dementia from deteriorating. Communities matter. We need to treat this report as a wake-up call and ensure they are shaped in the interests of the people who live in them.”

Alongside boosting the amount of age-friendly housing available and promoting the option to elderly homeowners, the report emphasises the need to better integrated public services so that people can be more actively engaged in living, working and socialising in their own communities.

To support the building of new accessible housing, the report also suggests introducing Government-funded design awareness training for planners and local councillors, as well as new settlement programmes incorporating Lifetime Neighbourhood principles.

RIBA’s report echoes the calls of a range of organisations including Habingteg and the Centre for Ageing Better for urgent action and government intervention to address the housing crisis.

Discussing the call for more investment into addressing the growing housing crisis, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesman Cllr Martin Tett pointed out that the majority of people will live in existing housing, stressing the importance of supporting the adaptation of homes to meet the needs of older residents.

Recently, a report gathered from Freedom of Information requests revealed which local authorities are spending the most and least on Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) across England.

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https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/elderly-woman-at-home-washing-up-e1606214986691.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/elderly-woman-at-home-washing-up-e1606214986691.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Calvin BarnettHousingNewsroomReports & Researchage-friendly housing,Centre for Ageing Better,Centre for Towns,DFG,disabled facilities grants,Government,Habinteg,housing,housing crisis,local authorities,NHS,RIBA,Royal Institute of British Architects,social careThe Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has released a new report into age-friendly housing, emphasising the importance of well-designed, purpose-built new homes that help elderly residents stay active and independent, amid a growing housing crisis.RIBA’s report A home for the ages: Planning for the future through age-friendly design...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals