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New research recommends major increases in older people's housing

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Research released today by Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield is providing new insights into the issue of older people's housing. 

Researchers working closely with South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, with funding from NHS England’s Healthy New Towns programme, suggest there will be major shortages in specialist housing in many local authorities in coming years.

The research, led by Sheffield Hallam's Centre for Regional and Economic Social Research (CRESR), uses national data from the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) about the majority of older people's housing schemes in England.

Looking specifically at the local authorities with the highest level of supply, the research explored some of the factors associated with this, and how future social and demographic trends will affect demand for such housing in local areas.

The research has led to the creation of a new tool called the Housing for Older People Supply Recommendations (HOPSR), available to use here. This provides each local authority with recommendations about the number of units of age-exclusive housing, specialist housing and care beds that will be needed in future years, and enables users to test different future scenarios. These recommendations are intended to stimulate discussion at a local level about how best to meet the needs of an ageing population.

The research revealed that the supply of specialist housing in Greater Cambridge will need to be 80 per cent higher by 2035, compared to current levels, and with significant increases also required in age-exclusive housing and care beds.

Across England there is a recommendation for an additional 783,500 units of specialist housing, with 88 per cent of local authorities likely to require at least 1,000 additional units. 

One of the researchers on the project Dr Tom Archer said: "With an ageing population we urgently need to plan our housing provision to make sure it meets older people's needs. To do this local areas must develop whole system approaches which join together a variety of advice, care and home modification services, with more appropriate general needs and specialist housing. 

Many local authorities will need to increase their supply of specialist housing. Our new tool, HOPSR, can be the starting point for considering how to best meet local needs, and what scale and type of specialist provision is needed.

Stephen Hills, Director of Housing at South Cambridgeshire District Council continues: "We are an area experiencing a huge amount of growth. So, it’s important the needs of older people are considered on new developments, such as the emerging new town of Northstowe, in the planning and building stages.

"This tool helps plan an appropriate mix of housing within our new and existing communities. It’s an excellent addition for local authorities, and I’m grateful that funding from the NHS England Healthy New Towns initiative has helped bring it forward."

For press information: Martin Webb in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2621 or email

For South Cambridgeshire District Council enquiries: Tom Horn in the South Cambridgeshire District Council Communications Team on 01954 713 025 or email

Notes to Editors

1. This research was funded by through NHS England’s Healthy New Towns programme.

2. The term 'specialist housing' covers a range of types of provision, including sheltered and extra care housing. The research uses the definitions provided by EAC found here.

3. Further details about the research and findings relating to Greater Cambridge can be found in the projects final report, available here.