How can we create homes and neighbourhoods which allow people to remain embedded in their community until the very end of their lives?
As people age their needs and their abilities change.As a result homes which worked well for them for decades become problematic. Stairs can no longer be managed. The shop selling milk and papers is too far away. Driving is no longer so easy. Houses become too big and too empty. Ash Sakula thinks that part of the solution is to create convivial neighbourhoods with a wide range of different kinds of homes. It has been posited that the housing shortage could largely be solved if older, smaller households could move to smaller, more suitable accommodation and release their over-large homes for those who need more bedrooms and larger gardens. It doesn’t happen because there are very few smaller homes of a quality that might tempt an older person from a cherished, memory-filled home, however inconvenient, that they have lived in for years. Stamp duty doesn’t help either.
This could change if every neighbourhood of new homes incorporated a number of smaller homes designed to adapt to the changing needs and reduced mobility of older people. These homes would be strategically located in the heart of the community, near to shops, cafés, doctors’ surgeries and bus stops. They would need to have spacious rooms and good storage to house accumulated possessions, spare bedrooms for grandchildren and other guests, small manageable gardens, patios or balconies, and the ability to accommodate wheelchairs, mobility scooters and other aids as and if needed. They would represent a desirable moving-on alternative to staying put.
Just as important as the hardware, however, is their role in enabling older people to stay visible by remaining in their communities and playing an active part in the daily life of the neighbourhood. Many older people have a great deal of experience and spare time to offer: they can help with childcare, provide eyes on the street and be a repository of local information and wisdom. In return, the community can take responsibility for being good neighbours to their older members, and being first responders in offering support and help when needed.
An alternative vision for replacing a tired 1960s shopping precinct in Norwich
Mixed tenure homes in a traditional seaside town.
Creating a convivial neighbourhood of streets and houses on a riverside site in Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Two rural co-housing sites at Dartington, Devon
Pushing for new elegant and groundbreaking ways to meet changing housing needs.