Retirement areas could be forced to build bungalows
A new generation of bungalows could be built in the Westcountry following the launch of plans to overhaul planning guidelines to provide bespoke homes for an ageing population.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is set to publish rules tomorrow which would enforce councils to draw up age profiles for the area based on Census data.
Planners would have to ensure there were enough properties of the right type – including bungalows that would be made available only to older people.
Popular in the 1950s and 60s, bungalow building slowed in the 1980s and accounted for just 2% of planned new builds last year.
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Planning minister Nick Boles said pensioners wanted to move into bungalows, which can be easily adapted as they grow infirm.
"We must build more homes or suitable accommodation for older people if we are to avoid problems further down the track," he said.
"We're all living longer and there will be a big rise in the number of older people in future years. Making sure councils plan for this, and for enough suitable homes like bungalows in their area, will help ensure the ageing population can live in the places that they want and enjoy their retirement."
According to Census data from 2011, more than a quarter of a million people in the Westcountry are aged 65 or over, out of a total population of nearly 1.3 million.
The regulations on bungalows will be introduced as part of the Government's national planning guidance. The document will include plans to remove council tax premiums on family annexes and allow bigger extensions without planning permission. Current planning rules make it unattractive for developers to build one-storey properties over detached family homes or multi-storey apartments.
Richard Copus, director of South Devon-based Wood's Estate Agents, and spokesman for the National Association of Estate Agents in the South West, said it was less attractive financially too.
He said: "It's an interesting one. In the late 1950s and 1960s there was a surplus of bungalows built.
"The people that speak to me don't generally want bungalows.
"But if they haven't built any for years, it's a very good idea.
"I think we have got to be careful. It's a good idea to include them in the mix, alongside affordable housing."
Only 300 bungalows were built in 2009 and last year builders registered plans to construct 1,700 bungalows with the National House Building Council, with many not yet built.