Eugene Marchese on age-appropriate homes.

In the Guardian, Eugene Marchese discusses the need for more age-appropriate housing. He addresses the importance of improving later living options in the UK to help older people to live better lives.

More ‘age-appropriate’ homes needed in the UK, says report.

More purpose-built housing for older people will free up family homes, research claims.

The key to unlocking the UK’s housing crisis lies in reversing decades of underinvestment in purpose-built housing for older people, according to new research published on Wednesday.

The report, titled Too little, Too late? Housing for an ageing population, by the Cass Business School, the Association of Retirement Community Operators and the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation, said investing in homes for the elderly would encourage downsizing and free up family homes.

The research found there are 15m bedrooms surplus to requirements across UK homes. This will exceed 20m by 2040, with nearly 13 million people above the age of 65 living in largely unsuitable households. The report also found that nearly 9m households aged over 65 live in a house with ‘surplus’ bedrooms.


Only 2.5% of the UK’s 29m dwellings are defined as retirement housing, but the number of purpose-built homes offering care services is far less, at around 0.7% of UK housing stock.

The report found that just 7,000 new homes built each year are designed for older people. This, it concludes, is “insufficient to serve the 180,000, 65-plus households that will be created each year over the next decade”.

Eugene Marchese, co-founder of Guild Living, which is developing purpose-built housing for older people in town centres, said: “This welcome report lays bare some stark figures on how much housing is being wasted and how far behind Britain is when it comes to providing the right amount of age-appropriate accommodation.

“This is about one thing: helping older people live better,. Most people have no real understanding of ‘later living’ – but the Covid-19 crisis has woken everyone up to what happens when we ignore the question of ‘how do we want our parents to live?’”

Félicie Krikler, director at Assael Architecture, said: “As this report makes clear, households have been shrinking in size for four decades, but the way we design new homes has failed to keep pace. Our planning system must recognise that well-designed later living housing can transform our lives as we get older by allowing us to age better.

“This is not only by supporting mobility but also by creating aspirational housing that people choose to move to, not because they have to, and intergenerational places with shared services that sit at the heart of their community.”

A statement from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We are ensuring more people than ever before can access a safe, secure, affordable place to call home. This includes helping older people make informed choices about the sort of housing that meets their aspirations.

“Many older people are already benefiting from the more than 460,000 affordable homes we have delivered since 2010. Others are being supported to stay in their own homes. We have also strengthened planning policy to make it clear that we expect all councils to have policies in place for addressing the housing needs of older people.”