Tees Valley development highlights solution to over-55s housing shortage

The shortage of housing for older people in the UK, highlighted by recent research from Legal & General and the Centre for Economic and Business Research is being tackled by an innovative housing project in the Tees Valley.

Work on the infrastructure for the ambitious £100million Mount Leven village in Yarm will begin shortly. More than £3 million of the investment will be in creating a ‘wow’ factor that will make this development an international flagship scheme for housing for the over 55s.

Planning permission has been granted for an integrated state-of-the-art village community for over 55’s with high quality buildings constructed to Level 5 of the Code of Sustainable Homes, with social, cultural and leisure facilities, doctor’s surgery, restaurant and pub. Completion of the 1st stage prestigious development could be in as little as two years.

Official data reports that 8.1m properties, or 35 percent of all homes in the country, are under-occupied and the Legal & General study claimed that if all of the 3.3m over-55s who want to downsize could find suitable homes it would unlock 18 percent of the country’s property market, worth hundreds of billions of pounds.

The lack of dedicated housing is also harming young families and first-time buyers. The problems of young families and older people overlap to an extent which has not yet received enough recognition. Research shows that for every housing chain created by an older person downsizing into specialist accommodation, and freeing up a family home, a first time buyer enters the housing market six moves later.

Campaigner Esther Rantzen CBE of Silverline has endorsed the practice of providing bespoke homes for ‘last-time buyers’ She has said:

“Millions of older people are looking to downsize into more appropriate housing that is better located, offers improved safety and is more suited to their needs. Yet when they come to move, they find their options are severely limited because there is such an under-supply of specialist retirement housing.”

Javed Majid the man behind Mount Leven Village said:

“I welcome this report and the debate it is opening up regarding property provision for the over-55s.”

“However, it is not just property we are building but a whole lifestyle and a range of living options, from completely independent living through to nursing care.”

“Mount Leven will free up much needed family homes in the area as people downsize from their existing properties, reducing the need for traditional large scale housing developments on the periphery of the area.”

“Without measures to free up family-sized housing chains are blocked and younger people are forced to rent. By blocking properties at the top of the ladder there are no options at the bottom.”

“This really is a win-win situation.”