With an aging population and a squeeze of social care budgets, we are facing as a nation serious problems with housing for older people. As people live longer, their support needs are going to grow. The ultimate course of action is for people to be moved into residential nursing care when there are no further options to support people living at home. This is, of course, an extremely expensive outcome for local authorities which pick up the bill.
So, a planning application to build 14 apartments on the site of the derelict Whickham Social Club caught my attention recently. The apartments will be designed specifically for people with mobility and health issues and, in many cases, still living with relatives who are often their carers. We have a huge shortage such housing in which addressing the on-going and future care needs of individuals are built into the housing itself. Such housing will allow people to remain independent longer and will help to keep people living in the community rather than in care.
I met planning officers and the agent for the developer yesterday at the Civic Centre to discuss outstanding issues about the application. Hopefully these will be resolved before the planning committee considers the plans in September. This will be a beneficial development that addresses specific housing needs, clears away a derelict eyesore and increases the council tax revenue to Gateshead.