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Suffolk: County looks to encourage healthier homes

PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 February 2014 | UPDATED: 11:30 10 February 2014

Joanna Spicer.

Joanna Spicer.

A new drive to persuade older people that it might be better to move to more manageable homes is to be launched tomorrow in Suffolk.

And housing officials are also looking at ways that more appropriate housing can be used to ensure families have a more cohesive life.

The subject is to be at the heart of a meeting led by health minister and Central Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter at the county council’s Endeavour House headquarters.

He will be joined on the podium by Joanna Spicer, the councillor responsible for drawing up and implementing the county’s work with troubled families.

Mrs Spicer said that having appropriate housing was vital to ensuring that people could live independently as long as possible – but it was often difficult to persuade people when the time was right to consider a change.

And there was a shortage of appropriate housing, pressures on land meant there were few bungalows being built today.

She said: “The figures show that 77% of those aged 65 or more own their own homes, and it is not easy to persuade them to think about whether their homes are appropriate for them looking into the future.

“Some people are looking to downsize, but there needs to be appropriate homes for them to do so.”

As people got older still, their needs changed – but most still owned their own homes. 80% of those aged 80 or more are owner-occupiers.

“People looking to downsize when they are 65 are looking for something different to those who are looking to downsize at 80. There needs to be an understanding of what is needed.”

Most bungalows were built between the 1950s and 1970s – and many of them have large gardens.

These may be attractive for people at 65, but by they time they reach their 80s the garden could be difficult to manage although the single-level home might be ideal.

The meeting will also hear from representatives of housing associations, council housing officials, and planning officers.

Mrs Spicer hopes the meeting will help to lead to a “Suffolk Housing Standard” which will encourage developers and planning officials to consider the needs of an ageing population when homes are being built.

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