As reported today in the Daily Express, Dominic Raab has been called to intervene as Elmbridge Borough council, part of his constituency, rules older people should not be living in town centres.
Local council officials plan to refuse the planning application for Guild Living’s high street community offering over 65s a better quality of life.
Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement to “fix the injustice” of care home funding and address the UK’s “sclerotic” planning system, emails from Elmbridge Council reveal planning officers plan to refuse £100m regeneration scheme for hundreds of new homes for enabling retirees to live in the centre of town.
Published on the council’s website, the recommendation for refusal states that older people will “undermine the viability and the vitality the town centre”. Charities, academics and local people are appalled at Epsom & Ewell council’s statement and have stressed that the recommendation for refusal based on this could breach the Equality Act.
Locals are being encouraged to head to Elmbridge council website and give their views.
Guild Living’s proposed scheme, in partnership with Legal & General, looks to provide bespoke healthcare revitalising the former Homebase into a retirement community.
Plans are to include NHS care beds to reduce strain on local services and intergenerational facilities to bridge the divide between age groups.
Planners stated that “the proposed development fails to make efficient use of land by providing the type of elderly accommodation for which there is no short or medium-term need” despite no initial objections to the communities design.
They also added, “the application fails to support diversity in the town centre, it fails to add to the centre’s competitiveness and would undermine the vitality and viability of [the] town centre.”
Lawyers have said that refusal of planning permission based on prospective age of residents could breach the Equality Act due to age being a protected characteristic.
The 2010 Act states: “Public authorities must comply with the public sector equality duty.” The duty aims to make sure public authorities think about things like discrimination and the needs of people who are disadvantaged or suffer inequality when they make decisions about how they provide their services and implement policies.
Forming housing minister and local MP Dominic Raab has been urged to intervene in a letter sent by Legal & General.
If in the event of a lost appeal, which is likely due to no policy outline on how Elmbridge Brough Council plans to use the land, they could be hit with £1.5 million in legal fees — “enough to pay the salaries of 65 nurses”.
The number of people aged 85+ in the UK is set to double to 3.5 million over the next five years. Whilst figures in the borough on housing statistics that those in the 70+ age group will increase dramatically.
Despite these figures the council revealed the following statement online, “there is no urgent need for the delivery of any more nursing care bed spaces in Elmbridge for a foreseeable future.”
They added: “As there is a significant acute pressure to deliver other types of housing and specifically affordable housing coupled with the lack of land available to deliver these homes, a balance must be struck when considering schemes for other uses. As there is no pressing identified need for a C2 extra care or a nursing care accommodation, it is considered that the proposal fails to make efficient use of land in these terms.”
It is clear that there is a local need for retirement housing. The Planning Inspectorate recognised the lack of specialised housing in the borough and accepted figures when deciding the planning appeal for Whiteley Village
“There is no doubt in my mind that there is a clear and local need in Elmbridge for all forms of elderly persons’ accommodation, and indeed this need is both urgent and growing,” adds the Inspector.
The planning committee will consider the proposals on 20 October.
To read the full letter submitted to Dominic Raab urging him to intervene as Elmbridge Council looks to refuse planning application based on ageist claims HERE>
If you would like to express your support for Guild Living at Walton-on-Thames, then we encourage you to visit the Elmbridge website HERE>