Government complicates UCO issue over Housing for Elderly in new NPPG

NPPG Update

How does the use classes order apply to specialist housing for older people?

It is for a local planning authority to consider into which use class a particular development may fall. When determining whether a development for specialist housing for older people falls within C2 (Residential Institutions) or C3 (Dwellinghouse) of the Use Classes Order, consideration could, for example, be given to the level of care and scale of communal facilities provided.

Paragraph: 014 Reference ID: 63-014-20190626

This is a shift from ministry letters over the years stating the level of internal care was not a land use matter no doubt prompted by caselaw and ministerial decisions.  (see for example)

This will simply confuse matters.

Why cant it simply follow precedent

In these cases, a recurring theme is the degree of care provided to the majority, or all residents. It appears that conditions limiting occupation to those in need of care and support and receipt of a domiciliary care package of at least 2 hours per week are likely to underpin acceptance of a C2 classification. The 2 hours appears, in some of the cases, to be considered more than would normally be available in sheltered housing. It is argued provision of care by an on-site care team is more than would normally be provided by a warden within a sheltered housing scheme. While domiciliary care can be received in sheltered housing, the receipt of care is not a condition of occupation as it may be in extra care schemes. It is the explicit requirement to be in receipt of care as a condition of occupation that can make the difference.

On the other hand there is a case to state the level of care in not a material planning consideration.  Letters from the ministry dating back over 20 years state this clearly.  For example at an appeal in Hereford

‘the level of care to be provided is not relevant, since the Use Classes Order does not refer to that’ (paragraph 29) (source Tetlow King)

After all a resident of a C3 sheltered housing development could be receiving full time care – it would not switch the use class.

What matters I think are three things

  1. whether it is designed for people who cannot live independently (including independently with warden care) and
  2. whether those design features include elements essential for the care of those who cannot live independently and
  3. whether occupancy is limited by condition to those who cannot live safely in single family C3 dwellings (including conventional sheltered housing with wardens)

If the SoS wants the level of care to be material they should modify the UCO to reflect that. However this approach I think takes planning down a tricky path.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s