The planning and housing disconnect

Housing 21’s primary focus is on providing quality affordable accommodation and care to older people of modest means. 

We work closely with local authority partners to provide a real alternative to residential care when individual’s needs can no longer be safely met in their current accommodation. Effective partnerships and integrated practices are key to the success in meeting these aims.

Despite Housing 21’s development of 125+ extra care schemes over the last 15 years, the model is still evolving and the concept of extra care is not widely known or acknowledged. Working across Adult Social Care, Housing, Benefits, Finance and Planning departments in Unitary, District and County Councils can be challenging but close working relationships are imperative to the effective development of new schemes.

The bulk of our current, ambitious development programme is focussed on the development and delivery of affordable (rented and shared ownership) extra care housing. We have 14 extra care and 2 retirement schemes currently on site each of which is testament to the close working relationships with have with local authorities and others to address the particular challenges faced for each scheme. Understanding the benefits of the Housing 21 offer to both Local Authority budgets and the wider communities within which new schemes are located enables us to work effectively together to address challenges such as planning and financial constraints with the ultimate aim of delivering much needed schemes to time and to budget.

"By working with local authorities, Housing 21 can deliver much needed schemes to time and budget"A thorough understanding of how Housing 21’s extra care and retirement housing  can meet the range of specialist older people’s housing needs and the benefits they bring to communities is vital to ensuring an appropriate and desirable product is developed and deliverable. Working in a multi-disciplinary and experienced team from the outset brings considerable benefits to each project. Factors to be considered include;

  • Design and scale
  • Demand and the needs of the specific client group
  • Care service provision
  • Benefits of the ‘community hub’ approach to integration within the local neighbourhood
  • Benefits to the local economy through job creation, opportunities for local enterprise and purchasing in the local supply chain
  • Early engagement with the local community including local politicians and members
  • Impact on local infrastructure e.g. health, transport, environment

Addressing the points above should allow for designs that meet the needs of the local community and are sympathetic to the local environment. The mixture of local knowledge and specialist expertise will inform the design by providing clear and positive messages from all stakeholders and prevent misunderstanding of the purpose and ethos of each scheme. This, in turn, should lead to more meaningful discussions as part of the planning pre-application process that allow for the viability and deliverability of projects to be fully understood and prioritised. Challenges to the quality of design should be made against a backdrop of well-informed commissioning across multi-disciplinary hierarchies and organisations unified in the pursuit of the same aim; the provision of good quality, affordable accommodation to older people of modest means.

For more on planning for an ageing population, visit the Housing LIN’s webpages here.


Posted on by Katey Twyford

A very good summary of the benefits of working in partnership - it's essential for local authorities to take a partnership approach from the very start of a competitive tendering process. Strong relationships add value to extra care schemes and can be crucial in creating a 'can do' approach to solving any local issues that arise as a new extra care community becomes operational.

Posted on by Oona Hickson

Partnership working is about seeing the perspective of all sides. At WSCC we see the development of ECH as vital to provide alternatives too, and reduce our reliance on residential care, and we wish to extend the extra care offer where we can to be all age, not just for older people, and to all tenures.
We are pleased to be working with Housing 21.
We agree that planning buy in, and also developing models of care that are sustainable are vital to expansion of the sector
I personally think we need to rebrand and market ECH as the name is clunky, and the concept is not widely understood even by professionals, e.g in Adult Social Care.
We do not do enough to analyse the cost benefits of ECH, and to work closer with Health to explore the wider society benefits, and economic savings of ECH.

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