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Policy H15 Specialist older persons housing


  1. Boroughs should work positively and collaboratively with providers to identify sites which may be suitable for specialist older persons housing taking account of:
    1. local and strategic housing needs information and the indicative benchmarks set out in Table 4.4
    2. the need for sites to be well-connected in terms of contributing to an inclusive neighbourhood, access to social infrastructure, health care and public transport facilities
    3. the increasing need for accommodation suitable for people with dementia.
  2. Specialist older persons housing (Use Class C3) provision should deliver:
    1. affordable housing in accordance with Policy H5 Delivering affordable housing, and Policy H6 Threshold approach to applications
    2. accessible housing in accordance with Policy D5 Accessible housing
    3. the highest standards of accessible and inclusive design in accordance with Policy D3 Inclusive design
    4. suitable levels of safe storage and charging facilities for residents’ mobility scooters
    5. pick up and drop off facilities close to the principal entrance suitable for taxis (with appropriate kerbs) minibuses and ambulances.
  3. Sheltered accommodation and extra care accommodation is considered as being in Use Class C3. Residential nursing care accommodation (including end of life/ hospice care and dementia care home accommodation) is considered as being in Use Class C2.

While London is a ‘young city’, it is expected to experience substantial growth in its older population. By 2029 the number of older person households (aged 65 and over) will have increased by 37 per cent, with households aged 75 and over (who are most likely to move into specialist older persons housing) increasing by 42 per cent. Appropriate accommodation is needed to meet the needs of older Londoners.

Some older Londoners may wish to downsize, move closer to family or friends or be closer to services and facilities, but they may not want to move into specialist older persons housing. Boroughs and applicants should recognise the important role that new, non-specialist residential developments play in providing suitable and attractive accommodation options for older Londoners, particularly developments in or close to town centres, near to relevant facilities and in areas well-served by public transport.

In some circumstances, older people may choose to seek alternative, more tailored specialist accommodation. There is a range of specialist accommodation options and the following definitions should be applied in London:

  • sheltered accommodation and extra care accommodation should be considered as C3 housing:
  • sheltered accommodation (also referred to as supported housing) is self-contained accommodation specifically designed and managed for older people (minimum age of 55 years) who require no or a low level of support. Schemes normally include additional communal facilities such as a residents’ lounge and a scheme manager, warden or personal alarm/telecare system
  • extra care accommodation (also referred to as assisted living, close care, or continuing care housing) is self-contained residential accommodation and associated facilities, designed and managed to meet the needs and aspirations of older people, and which provides 24-hour access to emergency support. A range of facilities are normally available such as a residents’ lounge, laundry room, a restaurant or meal provision facilities, classes, and a base for health care workers. Domiciliary care will be available to varying levels, either as part of the accommodation package or as additional services which can be purchased if required
  • residential nursing care accommodation (including end of life/ hospice care and dementia care home accommodation) should be considered as C2 as it provides non-self contained residential accommodation for people who require additional personal or nursing care. Rooms may be private or shared and may provide an ensuite bathroom. Communal facilities are likely to include a dining room and residents’ lounge, with meals and personal services routinely provided to all residents. Personal or nursing care is a critical part of the accommodation package at residential/nursing care accommodation. Care homes are unlikely to provide more than 80 bed spaces in total.

Research[58] has identified a total potential demand in London across all tenures for just over 4,000 specialist older persons units a year between 2017 and 2029. Table 4.4 provides these requirements as annual borough indicative benchmarks for specialist older persons housing (C3) 2017-2029.

[58] London Plan research reports can be found at

These benchmarks are designed to inform local level assessments of specialist housing need. Boroughs should plan proactively to meet identified need for older persons accommodation.

Looking beyond 2029 to 2041, the number of older persons households will continue to increase, although at a slightly slower rate than from 2017 to 2029.

Specialist older persons accommodation should provide affordable housing in line with Policy H5 Delivering affordable housing and Policy H6 Threshold approach to applications. However, the tenure split requirements for specialist older person accommodation may differ to those set out in Policy H7 Affordable housing tenure. Where they do, they should be clearly set out in Development Plan Documents or supplementary guidance. Schemes meeting the threshold set out in Policy H6 Threshold approach to applications will be considered under the Fast Track Route, but developments not delivering this will be subject to the Viability Tested Route.

Specialist older persons housing developments should also provide a suitable level of safe storage and charging facilities for residents’ mobility scooters, to prevent them from being stored in communal corridors or spaces which are not designed for this purpose.

Dementia does not just affect older people, however the total number of older people with dementia in London is forecast to rise from 73,825 in 2017 to 96,939 in 2029, an increase of 31 per cent. Methods of offering support for people with dementia have improved in recent years, as have accommodation options. There is currently no clear evidence identifying the best method of provision of dementia care or accommodation, and it is likely that a range of solutions will continue to develop. Boroughs should consider the need for accommodation for people with dementia within specialist older persons housing developments.

Table 4.4 - Annual borough benchmarks for specialist older persons housing (C3) 2017-2029

London boroughAnnual Benchmarks (units per annum)
Barking & Dagenham70
City of London10
Hammersmith & Fulham70
Kensington & Chelsea85
Tower Hamlets45
Waltham Forest110

Residential or nursing care accommodation (C2) is an important element of the suite of accommodation options for older Londoners and this should be recognised by boroughs and applicants. To meet the predicted increase in demand for care home beds to 2029, London needs to provide an average of 867 care home beds a year. The provision of Care Quality Commission rated Good or Outstanding care home beds is growing at around 3,525 bed-spaces a year in London and provision of dementia-capable bed spaces at a rate of 2,430 places a year. If the rates of supply and demand remain constant it should be possible to meet potential demand for both care home beds and dementia care home beds.