A vital age

John Wagner George Sell Uploaded

I find it astonishing that the planners at Elmbridge council in Surrey have turned down an application for a senior living development in Walton-on-Thames on the grounds that elderly people do not bring “vitality” to town centres.

The proposed scheme, by L&G's retirement arm Guild Living, includes the redevelopment of a vacant DIY superstore site into a 222-unit retirement village with intergenerational facilities.

Planning officers said: “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. 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.”

Not only is the decision questionable on legal grounds - the council has been warned by charity groups and lawyers that the recommendation is a potential breach of the Equality Act 2010, which lists age as a protected characteristic - but it is also insulting and short-sighted.

Having hosted a fascinating webinar recently featuring two exciting new senior living brands - The Kohab and the Embassies of Good Living - I'd go so far as to say this demographic would not only enhance the diversity of a town centre, but would also bring serious financial clout in the form of disposable income accrued from downsizing. Surely planners need town centres, now more than ever, to be filled with people who want to spend money?


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