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How Gloucestershire is preparing for the grey pound - Leanne Champney of SF Planning Ltd

By Leanne Champney of SF Planning Ltd 

The grey pound is an idiom for the economic power of older people. Given that local councils are there to provide for their population, it is ever more important to account for the grey pound.

Leanne Champney of SF Planning Ltd looks at how this is being achieved within the county.

There are many ways in which the grey pound has an impact on the planning system, such as elderly care provision, specialist accommodation and accessible homes.

During the preparation of any local plan, the local planning authority will undertake a local housing need assessment. This assessment looks at the population projection for the district and tries to plan for growth, considering demographic changes.

According to the Gloucestershire Local Housing Need Assessment, the county contains a lower proportion of the population that are working age than is found nationally. Principally, this is because there is a larger proportion of people within the county that are of pensionable age, meaning that the six district local plans within Gloucestershire have needed to produce policies to address this demographic need.

The Cheltenham Plan, adopted in 2020, includes Policy HM2: elderly care provision, which supports development proposals where they help meet the identified need, as established through the local housing need. Interestingly, the policy also includes consideration for the elderly to have an active and engaged lifestyle, where possible.

The Tewkesbury Borough Plan will support specialist accommodation for older people, where it is meeting a need and is acceptable in principle against their other housing policies through Policy RES14: specialist accommodation for older people. The plan is currently at examination and the inspector of the Tewkesbury Borough Plan has not suggested any changes to the proposed policy before the plan is adopted early next year.

The Gloucester City Plan, which is currently at examination awaiting the inspector's interim findings, includes Policy A6: accessible and adaptable homes. The policy looks at how new homes can be built to a standard that would allow the occupants to continue living there, should their needs change in terms of health or age.

Stroud District Council, like many of the other authorities in Gloucestershire, is reviewing its local plan and is preparing to submit it to the Planning Inspectorate. Again, the evidence points towards a change in the demographic and increasing need for homes for older people. The Stroud Plan includes Core Policy DCP2: supporting older people and people with mobility issues. There is an overall modelled demand of 3,091 older person homes for the plan period, which ends in 2040. This is across a variety of options in terms of care needs, such as independent or sheltered housing.

The Forest of Dean and Cotswold District Councils are in the early stages of plan preparation on their emerging plans, but if they follow along the same principles, we can expect similar from them in due course.

Of course, it is not just care provision and homes where the grey pound is spent, but also a whole host of other sectors in which planning has some control, whether it be employment opportunities, leisure facilities or the natural environment.

For example, the granny annex is not the only option for the older population. The opportunity for self-build and custom-build homes at sustainable locations could also be the solution to an accessible home.

As a company, we have gained planning permission for self-build homes across Gloucestershire, as well as experience in dealing with care homes for Richmond Villages, and Lillian Faithfull Care Homes

For more information on any aspect of the planning process, contact Leanne Champney at SF Planning Ltd on 01242 231575, info@sfplanning.co.uk or visit www.sfplanning.co.uk.

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