According to the NHS article our ageing population in numbers looks something like this:-
- More than one in five of us are already over 60, and the number of people over 60 is expected to increase from 14.9 million in 2014 to 18.5 million in 2025 (ONS, 2015)
- 75% of 75 year olds in the UK have more than one long term condition, rising to 82% of 85 year olds (Barnett et al, 2012)
- Between 2007/08 and 2013/14 the numbers of A&E attendances by people aged 60 or over increased by two-thirds, a steeper increase than is expected by demographic change alone (NHS England data, 2015)
If we don’t improve the way we provide support to older people then the NHS will struggle to meet the increasing demand for resources as well as changing patient needs.
Why Then Are Annexes For Elderly Relatives Being Refused?
Granny annexe planning if the truth be told is anything but straight forward.
It is such an unknown, uncertain, stressful and lengthy process that it can people off the idea of trying to provide an annexe for a family member altogether.
That is despite ALL it’s benefits ranging from the social and healthcare benefits through to the economical, care and housing benefits that would benefit both families AND Local Authorities in terms of cost and resources.
It’s been that way for a quite a number of years and to add to the frustration it’s vastly inconsistent from Local Planning Authority to Local Planning Authority.
Forward Thinking Councils Embrace The Benefits
Forward thinking Local Planning Authorities will be in favour of the benefits annexe living provides in terms of decreasing the amount of care required at Local Authority level.
They will also be aware of the considerable saving in terms of money & resources if elderly relative care, adaptations and housing needs are all met by families who build annexes for their parents.
They will also see the social benefits highlighted in the National Planning Policy.
Annexes Meet All The Criteria Outlined Within The National Planning Policy
The National Planning Policy Framework (that your Local Planning Authority should adhere to) states:-
2.1 The National Planning Policy Framework is at the forefront of driving sustainable development in the country, and states that there should be an automatic presumption in favour of sustainable development. Paragraph 14 of the Framework sets out the context within which this presumption should be applied.
2.2 The NPPF puts great weight on considering the local needs, and approving sustainable proposals without delay. The NPPF defines three dimensions to sustainable development:
- An Economic Role
- A Social Role
- An Environmental Role
An Economic Role
2.4 The proposal provides an affordable unit of ancillary accommodation for the applicant’s family members. It also ensures the site is being used efficiently and, in its own small way, bolsters the construction industry.
A Social Role
2.6 The requirement to provide affordable and sustainable accommodation for elderly family members is ever increasing. Age UK published “Care in Crisis 2014” which sets out the very clear need for flexible accommodation solutions for the elderly:-
- The number of people aged 85 and over (the group most likely to need care) has increased by 30 per cent between 2005 and 2014.
- Between 2005/6 and 2010/11 public funding for older people’s social care stagnated.
- 21% increase of residents in nursing. Residential homes since 2005.
- From 2010/11 to 2013/14 public funding for older people’s social care (including transfers from the NHS to councils) decreased by 10 per cent in real terms.
- Councils have cut back on their funding for social care.
- In 2011, it was estimated that 2 million older people had care related needs.
2.8 “Annexes” can additionally provide ancillary living accommodation for younger members of the family, allowing them to save for deposits for their first home, improve living conditions, provide a measure of independence and allow extended families to stay together.
Our Team Of Experts Work Extremely Hard On Your Behalf To Increase The Chances Of Planning Success
We use annexe planning specialists who work extremely hard on every one of our customer’s applications to increase their chance of planning success.
And the vast majority of them get approved, more so with a Certificate of Lawfulness than with traditional planning permission (which gives the Local Planning Authorities more control but some LPA’s operate restrictions on size, number of bedrooms and facilities to the extent that the annexe no longer becomes an annexe and isn’t fit for the purpose intended.)
We consider this to be vastly short-sighted and in our opinion contrary to the clear guidelines set out within the National Planning Policy framework (above).
And in addition seems to distance them completely with regards to elderly care issues both now and in the future.
In ALL cases an annexe is a temporary structure (or a mobile home) that can never be sold separately, lived in by anyone other than a family member and can be removed at any time in the future if required.
So Why Is It So Difficult? And What Can We Do To Simplify The Process When Everyone Is Willing To Co-operate?
At the moment there is more than a 50/50 chance of any annexe planning application for an annexe (which in the main are for elderly care) can end up turning into a mini running battle with the relevant LPA.
It can become Local Planning Policy versus common sense and frequently results in a complete breakdown of understanding as to what an annexe is and how it is going to be used.
It is also frequently met with an irrational fear by some Local Planning Authorities that is going to become a separate dwelling (which it can NEVER be) or sold off at sometime in the future (which it CAN’T).
Conditions can be added to the relevant permission by the Local Planning Authority to prevent this.
An annexe can only ever be for a family member and can never be sold as a separate dwelling. It must remain part of the main house and is connected to it on a permanent basis via a shared post code and mains services among other links.
It is usually slightly detached from the main house for many practical reasons and to offer the best solution to having to maintain family life whilst balancing elderly care.
You could argue it’s also beneficial to all concerned from a mental health perspective as it gives respite relief to all concerned during certain hours of the day.
What Is Deeply Concerning Is When Clear Elderly Care Needs Are Ignored Or Dismissed.
Every application for an annexe carries a personal statement from each customer stating the reasons why an annexe is needed, who it is for and is often accompanied by a medical report or evidence to back this up.
We have never met a customer yet who is in any way trying to “pull the wool over the LPA’s eyes” as it were with regards to this and 100% are willing to sign a sworn affadavit if required to verify the need for the annexe is as stated on the application.
Despite this in some cases Local Planning Authorities refuse permission for the annexe and put everyone through the appeal process which can take a further 9 months.
That is in addition to the 8-10 weeks most Local Planning Authorities take to process the planning application.
Almost ALL appeals of this nature are won on appeal which takes up much needed time and resources for everyone concerned and jeopardizes the well being of the elderly relatives caught up in the middle of it all.
In some cases the details of previous appeals are submitted with new annexe planning applications to assist the Local Planning Authority with regards to reaching a positive decision more of the time.
Why Would Someone With Terminal Cancer Have Their Annexe Refused?
The day we came across this particular case we became committed to changing people’s lives one annexe at a time.
We took a phone call from someone locally who explained that they had submitted a Planning Application to build an annexe in their garden for a relative with terminal cancer that wanted to live the rest of her life in what was a semi-rural peaceful garden setting near family and friends.
The LPA refused the application.
When we saw the reason given for refusal, we became incensed. The needs of the elderly person were not taken into consideration whatsoever and the reason for refusal was given as “there was too much paraphernalia in the garden.”
The paraphernalia amounted to a greenhouse and a shed.
So we reapplied on their behalf (for free) and obtained permission on their behalf several weeks later.
The lady continued to live her life for over 18 months just as she wanted.
It Begs The Question With Elderly Relatives Involved And All The Benefits For The Relevant Council Why On Earth Is This Process Being Made So Difficult?
There are hundreds of cases like the one above going on in the UK every day.
We are currently in discussions with an LPA right now who have taken 27 weeks to reach a decision that should have been reached within 8-10 weeks according to their own guidelines.
The customer’s mother is 92 and needs oxygen on a daily basis.
The situation is urgent yet the LPA are far more concerned with size, facilities and use than any consideration of the elderly care issues.
We even get asked why a kitchen or kitchenette is necessary?
It defies common sense.
Or washing facilities?
Can you really imagine someone over 75 going to and from the main house to make a cup of tea, get a glass of water or carry laundry every day?
It’s being completely misunderstood and needs clarity for all concerned with a fast-track planning system put in place specifically for family annexes.
The numbers of people building annexes in their gardens is naturally restricted by access, size and budget.
Yet we have the Local Planning Authority teams dealing with these as if they were full size dwellings.
It’s quite ridiculous.
Real-Life Elderly Care Issues Today
We all know that the current Corona Virus Covid-19 crisis seems to affect elderly people with underlying health conditions the most and are looking for ways to protect them.
Yet loneliness and it’s associated health issues is the primary factor in most families looking into annexes as an alternative to a Care Home for their parents.
According to Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, and more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
Loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both physical and mental health3, including:
- Cardiovascular disease and stroke
- Increased stress levels
- Decreased memory and learning
- Antisocial behavior
- Poor decision-making
- Alcoholism and drug abuse
- The progression of Alzheimer’s disease
- Altered brain function
Elderly care, adaptations for everyday living, safety and dementia drive the vast majority of the others.
We Believe Annexe Planning Or Obtaining A Certificate of Lawfulness Should Be More Straight Forward And Be Fairer For All
As this is something we and others in our industry see EVERY DAY we have decided to high-light the situation at Central Government level to try to make obtaining a Certificate of Lawfulness or Permission for annexes to be built much more straight forward.
Like the permitted development route or a system designed specifically for annexes.
We would love to work with other companies in our industry with extensive annexe knowledge who have first-hand experience with issues surrounding annexes and planning permission and annexes.
We could work together to provide an annexe blueprint that would greatly assist and potentially create a fast-track system at Local Authority level and assist families looking to take on the role of elderly care for their family members in the future.
Some Considerations Might Include
- Restricting the overall size to be no more than 40′ x 20′ ( 12.1m x 6.09m) which is the industry standard for retirement park homes.
- Allowing kitchen, bathroom and living facilities to be the same as you would expect in a bungalow with an option of a second bedroom as a live-in care / computer or hobby room.
- Plot size and any relevant location issues such as conservation areas, listed buildings or areas of outstanding natural beauty to be taken into consideration in the normal way.
- Restrictions on non-family member use & any separation issues in the future forming part of the relevant permission protecting Local Planning Policy but making a better provision for annexes that is fairer for all.
We would LOVE to receive your feedback on this topic by leaving a comment below or using Social Media to voice your opinion on this topic and why you think annexes and annexe planning should be as straight forward as a single storey extension if they meet certain criteria that includes being classed as a temporary building – i.e., a mobile home.
- Why is there such a vast difference from LPA to LPA when it comes to annexes and planning?
- 100% of annexe customers require an annexe for a family member, most are for elderly care needs or retirement planning.
- National policy fully support annexes yet some Local Planning Authorities are ignoring these guidelines in favour of local more restrictive policies.
- All annexes are mobile homes with lodge style annexes being easily transportable / removable should circumstances change in the future.
- Loneliness, dementia, safety issues, general elderly care / age related conditions could be better met by allowing families to take on this role.
- Annexes often assist housing too by freeing up much needed one-level bungalows for people seeking that style of accommodation.
- Care Homes are under pressure to cope and not all families have the finances to pay for Care Home care which results in additional costs at local level that could be averted.
So Our Campaign Starts This Week
We will be putting together a series of letters aimed at high-lighting this important issue at Central Government level as we seek to change planning for annexes in the future that will help pave the way for a clearer, faster and better understanding of the benefits of annexes, not just for families but for local councils too.