Landmark' ruling from Planning Inspectorate hailed by ARCO

Key Judgement by the Planning Inspectorate that supports ARCO's campaign

The Planning Inspectorate decision just published – regarding a site in East Cambridgeshire – notes the application is for:


  • “an integrated retirement community facility (IRC). Whilst it falls within the C2 use class, extra care housing is distinctly different from other forms of older people’s accommodation such as care homes and retirement housing.”


In a key judgement, the Inspector highlights the specific viability challenges for IRC’s and lack of delivery:


  • The evidence supports the appellant’s assertion that retirement housing schemes are generally less viable than general needs housing due to a range of factors, such as higher build costs. This is not contested by the Council and appears to me to be a major factor influencing past delivery, which has been abject at best. Indeed, the Local Plan acknowledges that the District faces a major challenge in increasing the provision of housing for the potentially vulnerable and elderly”. (Paragraph 38)


The Inspector also considers the lack of robust planning policy and site allocations:


  • Paragraph 63 of the [National Planning Policy] Framework emphasises the importance of planning policies in ensuring that housing needs for different groups, including housing-with-care for older people, are addressed. However, no sites are allocated specifically for C2 use in the Local Plan. That the predicted supply of extra care housing falls significantly below the identified need, and is anticipated to do so in the future, is partly a result of a distinct lack of robust local planning policies and site allocations to support this form of housing. Furthermore, the Council’s robust housing land supply position is not predicated on the future delivery of extra care housing, which reinforces the inadequacy of the Local Plan in supporting the delivery of this type of housing for older people”.


Michael Voges, Chief Executive of ARCO, said:  

  • “This is a landmark ruling from the Planning Inspectorate. It supports ARCO’s campaign over many years for local authorities to give proper consideration to the particular characteristics of Integrated Retirement Communities and the additional costs of developing them.
  • Against the backdrop of an ageing population, this ruling from the Planning Inspectorate underlines the need for local authorities to develop plans and have sites allocated for extra care housing.”

In November 2022, “The Mayhew Review: Future Proofing Retirement Living – Easing the care and housing crises” by Professor Les Mayhew noted that with the number of over-65s set to race past 17 million by 2040, the Government should initiate an accelerated programme of constructing older people’s housing with up to 50,000 new units a year, on top of the meagre 7,000 currently built annually.


In May 2023, following a three-year campaign by ARCO, the government launched the cross-Whitehall ‘Older People’s Housing Taskforce’, chaired by Professor Julienne Meyer, to look at options for the provision of greater choice, quality and security of housing for older people. 



  1. The Planning Inspectorate appeal reference is: APP/V0510/W/23/3324141. The decision of the Planning Inspectorate can be found here:
  2. The application is to provide around 170 IRC units, communals, open space and 30 affordable (C3) homes. 
  3. ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators) is the national body for charity, not-for-profit and private operators of Integrated Retirement Communities. ARCO has around 30 members operating more than 250 schemes providing homes to around 35,000 older people.