New communities need to provide for all generations
"Cohesive communities need a balanced age profile" - this is a finding from the New Towns review, which noted that many of the early New Towns were dominated by young families and social rented housing so failed to attract a mix of backgrounds, ages and ethnicities.
Work by the Young Foundation has identified crime, grime and lack of things for young people to do, as the three main issues for communities. Public anxieties about anti-social behaviour and young people mean there is a tendency for public agencies to focus on the needs of young people as a distinct group. Arguably, in the context of new communities, developers and agencies need to consider the needs of all generations when designing social infrastructure and public spaces.
It is important to think carefully about their needs and talk to them about what they want to do - they often just want somewhere to hang out, space for "bikes, balls and benches...." where they aren't perceived to be a nuisance.
Thursdays Children, Chris Wadhams , The Quest Trust (1998)_______________________________________________________________________________
The government's National Strategy for Housing in an Ageing Society identifies particular set of issues in meeting the housing needs of older people: "30 per cent of households are headed by an older person. Over 60 per cent of over-85s live alone, and older people living alone account for a quarter of total projected year on year household growth currently. In the future there will be many more older people requiring appropriate housing and services. For example, there will be 85 per cent more people over 85 by 2031. The ageing population is often more pronounced in rural areas. In the most rural local authority districts almost half of residents will be aged 50 and over by 2028."
Designing for the aspirations of older people requires us to ask about what amenities they want, what housing types they find attractive, where they want to live for example in a town centre or more suburban locations.
Elements of the strategy on housing and ageing that are particularly relevant for new communities include:
- sustainability: increase percentage of houses meeting Lifetime Homes Standards.
Reduce percentage of older people in housing failing decent homes thermal
- stronger communities: increase the percentage level of trust. Reduce percentage
not satisfied with their community. Increase community participation and
- better use of housing resources: increase the numbers of inclusive houses built
A recent report by IPPR describes some of the key social trends in the UK and assesses how these impact on older people and their wellbeing. There is evidence that many older people are becoming less satisfied, lonelier and more depressed. Older people are more likely to live with low levels of life satisfaction and wellbeing if they are poor, isolated, in ill health, living alone, living in unfit housing or rundown neighbourhoods and worse still if they are a carer or living in a care home.