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Majority of older people want single storey homes

A large number, some 60% of over-65s would consider moving to a bungalow and 65% believe that single level homes should be built specially for older people.

It means that around 7.2 million people would consider buying a bungalow, up 600,000 in a year, according to a new study from retirement home developer and manager McCarthy & Stone.

Its poll carried out on conjunction with YouGov also found that the equivalent of eight million people support the building of bungalows designed for occupation by older people.

And it points out that only around two million bungalows have ever been built in the UK, and just 2,418 new bungalows were built in 2018. In 1987 some 15% of all new homes were bungalows. That fell to 3.5% in 2007 and just 2% in 2018, indicating that in recent years bungalow building rates have actually moved in the opposite direction to demand.

The research says that the appetite for bungalows can be explained by several factors. Some 70% want to live on one level, 50% think they are easier to maintain and 49% say bungalows are much better suited to older people than conventional houses.

McCarthy & Stone currently has a pipeline of 254 bungalows across 17 sites within its retirement communities. Bungalows are currently for sale at sites in Buntingford, Hadleigh and Wymondham, and other schemes are presently being pursued through the planning process.

Demand for these bungalows has been consistently high, with all bungalows at sites in Chipping Norton and Shrewsbury already sold out and just three remaining across the Buntingford and Wymondham sites. The Company has sold around 60 bungalows in the last two years.

‘Bungalows are increasingly popular amongst older generations and should be a consideration for any drive to build more suitable housing as they are easier to maintain, are built with older people in mind and help maintain independence for longer,’ said John Tonkiss, chief executive of McCarthy & Stone.

‘Housing like this not only brings a host of health and other benefits to older people, it also helps free up under-utilised family homes for younger generations. This shift can play a major part in helping solve the UK’s housing crisis,’ he added.

The firm points out that well-designed bungalows are suited to later living given their step free access, their secure, private and manageable outside spaces and their easy adaptability.

However, planning rules to date have limited the viability of bungalows, favouring high density developments instead. Recent planning guidance for older people’s housing that recognised the growing need to provide more housing suitable for their needs was welcome, but this should just be a first step in the reform process.

McCarthy & Stone would like to see current planning legislation reconsidered to help cater for the increasing market demand for housing designed specifically for older people, including bungalows.

It says that this could be in the form of proactive policies, including the allocation of age-restricted bungalow only sites in Local Plans and the obligation to provide age-restricted bungalows as part of the housing mix in larger scale developments.

Also, specific site allocations could help to control the price of land that is suitable for bungalows, otherwise land prices will continue to reflect the development potential of higher density conventional house or flat developments, making bungalow schemes unviable.