2. Resetting the conversation, ‘valuable not vulnerable’

A core plank of all the work of the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub is to change the narrative so that older people are seen as ‘valuable not vulnerable’. In terms of housing our specific focus is on resetting the conversation with developers. This more positive and enabling approach will set out what people in later life want, their aspirations and taste for homes and the lifestyles they are choosing to live.

This will include actions to:

  • Create an evidence base on the commerciality of the later life market, setting out the scale and location of the market for new homes across all tenures, the equity and buying power of people in mid and later life across Greater Manchester and promoting what people in later life want to influence the market to develop viable alternatives for older people.
  • Use publication of the RightPlace research to support this evidence base, defining typologies with real life case studies that identify individuals who want to or have moved and set out what type of homes and locations they were looking for.
  • Identify promotional opportunities to utilise the evidence base and case studies to influence housing providers, developers, architects and masterplanners to promote debate and discussion on how the industry can better support delivery.

Collaborative approaches to housing our ageing population

Pozzoni Architecture creates bespoke, considered architecture that has a positive impact in society.

The practice has taken a lead role with Southway Housing Trust in bringing together a working group to collaborate on promoting the age-friendly homes agenda more widely, particularly to developers, funders, operators and those working with them across the private, public and third sectors.

Focused on collectively shaping solutions within the built environment across our cities, towns and rural communities, a quarterly roundtable brings contributors together on topical issues – such as the opportunity, the commercial business case, social value, responding to Covid – to develop ideas on how the housing and development sector can respond to the needs of an ageing population.

Nigel Saunders, director at Pozzoni Architecture, commented “We have brought together expertise from across the development community to collectively help drive forward a new approach to create inclusive environments for our ageing population, in partnership with the public and third sectors across Greater Manchester.”

Building on a warm sunny day

GMCA and the Centre for Ageing Better have a strategic partnership to support Greater Manchester to be an exemplar as an age-friendly city region, adopting best practice and testing innovative approaches to helping people to live fulfilling, healthy later lives, particularly those most at risk. Delivering safe and accessible housing is one of our shared priorities. To achieve this we need to support and incentivise people to improve the condition of their homes. We also need to ensure that new homes are accessible, within age friendly places, and that more people are actively seeking these.

The Good Home Inquiry supported by the Centre for Ageing Better provides an evidence-based analysis to help partners such as the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub to take the urgent action needed to tackle our poor quality existing housing stock, by making it easier for people to access information and advice, including financial support available.

Rightsizing and RightPlace are two interlinked research projects investigating the housing options available to older people delivered by Manchester School of Architecture in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better and GMCA. The projects critique the concept of downsizing; as a policy position that inadequately accounts for the inequalities within the older population and actively promotes a simplistic conception of older people’s decision-making process.

Findings demonstrate the importance of place identity in the ways that older people evaluate their housing options in later life, which suggests the need for investments in the neighbourhood environment and social infrastructure rather than just new housing. The RightPlace project takes the analysis further, using advanced statistical analysis to show a series of different cohorts of older people who share similar feelings about their home and neighbourhood, using this to examine the diverse preferences for ‘ageing in place’ or moving home in later life. These are being tested with older people, planners and policy makers in Reddish, Stockport to understand how the data can inform future neighbourhood and housing strategies across Greater Manchester to address the housing needs of those most at risk of missing out on a good later life.