Half of Scots aged over 65 ‘under-occupy their homes’

Portrait of a happy couple with senior man pouring champagne in his glassAround 50 per cent of the homes inhabited by people aged over 65 in Scotland are under-occupied, according to new research.

A report by Savills has concluded that 430,000 homes are bigger than required and unsuitable to meet the changing needs and lifestyle of an ageing population.

According to the report, this high number of under-occupiers has implications for society, including expense and energy issues, and is resulting in a lack of sufficiently sized homes for young buyers and families.

Savills suggests under-occupation presents both a challenge and an opportunity for developers, investors and policymakers to build homes that older people actually want, and can afford, to live in.

The UK’s 65-plus population is set to rise by 1,000,000, between 2015 and 2020, meaning an additional 11,000 new homes will be needed each year to maintain the status quo.

Scotland’s population is set to increase by nine per cent between 2012 and 2037, resulting in an additional 500,000 over-60s. At the same time, the number of households in Scotland is projected to increase by 17 per cent.

Emily Dorrian, of Savills research, said: “Growth in both population and household numbers will have a significant impact on the structure of the housing market, and intelligently planned development will be imperative for a fully functioning sector.”

Savills anticipates the average household size will be 15 per cent smaller in 2037 than it was in 2012. The firm states that the most effective way to actively encourage downsizing will be for planners and developers to work together to increase the range of good quality, appropriately-sized housing options; from modern, design-driven properties in central locations to retirement villages, care homes, and supported housing units.

Natalie Antonelli
Natalie Antonelli

Natalie Antonelli, of Savills Planning in Glasgow, added: “Through policy, the Scottish Government explicitly requires local authorities to meet the housing needs of older people. Despite this, it is clear the planning system could do more to promote and develop a range of homes in reaction to the demands of our ageing population.

“Currently, downsizer development opportunities are often not promoted, nor are they preferred options within the planning system, and this needs to change. Promotion of sites for downsizers will help to increase supply, and in turn encourage developers to consider the changing housing requirements of the population and ensure that their products address this change in demand.”

Click here to access the new research

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