WINCHESTER City Council is developing a strategy to meet the complex accommodation needs of its aging population.

Council leaders outlined their initial thoughts on how to tackle the issue at the Economy and Housing Policy Committee.

It’s predicted that Winchester will have 65.4 per cent more people aged over 85 by 2036. Older persons refers to people aged over 55.

The city council will launch a consultation, speaking to pre-retirement age residents, the existing elderly, estate agents, private landlords, partner authorities, developers and home providers to develop a clear strategy, before presenting the first draft to Cabinet at the end of this year or early 2025.

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Hampshire Chronicle: Cllr Westwood speaking at the meetingCllr Westwood speaking at the meeting (Image: Newsquest)

Karen Thorburn, strategic housing manager, told the committee at Winchester Guildhall on Tuesday, February 20: “It’s an awful lot of work to get where we need to be and meet the accommodation needs and aspirations of older people.”

Cllr Chris Westwood, Cabinet member for housing, said: “We have a social care crisis in this country. This is a complex problem that need to be dealt with at a national and local level. This is a timely point to review the impact of an aging population in our district.

“It’s not just about care homes it is about providing the right types of homes that people can move into and live in. When we give planning permission to a new place it can be developed so we are building properties that people can stay in.

“Loneliness is a real issue for older people. When we are looking at accommodation we need to make sure that we have houses and areas where people can interact easily and not be locked up in a little box.”

Cllr Caroline Horrill, Conservative group leader, reinforced the idea of ‘homes for life’: “These are really important elements that allow people to stay in their homes.”

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Cllr Margot Power encouraged the housing team to look at other successful models in the local area. She said: “We have got people who have been managing very nicely and then suddenly they can’t get out and get very lonely and want to move into sheltered housing.

“The Brendoncare model in Chandler’s Ford is particularly strong. They have bungalows so if residents want to socialise they can, they also have a dementia wing which is invaluable and they can still be part of that community.

“I would like you to go and see Chandler’s Ford and see if it is possible to replicate.”

Committee chair, Cllr James Batho, questioned the reason behind the district’s increasing number of elderly. In response, Ms Thorburn said that the population is aging but also younger people are choosing not to stay in the district.

Concluding the meeting, Cllr Batho said: “It’s going to require a wide-ranging and comprehensive look across the whole of the district to make sure accommodation is in the right place at the right time for older people.”