‘Coax pensioners into smaller properties to boost housing stock’

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Nov 28, 2017
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Plans to boost house building were included in Greg Clark’s industrial strategy paper

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Pensioners should be coaxed into selling their large houses and moving into “suitable and appealing retirement properties”, a City of London lawyer has said. 

Commenting on government plans to boost house building, published yesterday in Greg Clark’s industrial strategy paper, Donna Fleming, a partner at Ashurst, called on ministers to “unleash the significant equity wrapped up in underoccupied properties”.

She claimed that pensioners “have huge potential spending power if suitable and appealing retirement properties were available. The government needs to work with the real estate industry to make it more viable for developers to create retirement properties in the UK”. This would “allow their owners to realise the equity which has built up in their current homes”, while making more family homes available and catering “for a range of ever-changing and growing healthcare requirements, providing a supportive community within which an ageing population can live and participate”, she said.

Planning woes

A “well-funded and flexible planning system” was on the mind of Duncan Field, a partner at the transatlantic law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, who argued that ambitious house-building plans could be scuppered if the current process was not reformed.

“To facilitate the scale and pace of change that is required, national and local government will need to consider the much wider use of simplified planning zones, enterprise zone schemes and local development orders and to embrace fully the recent introduction of permission in principle and planning freedoms,” Field said.

The industrial strategy also gave lawyers who act for insurance companies another opportunity to sound alarm bells over driverless cars. Only a few days after Philip Hammond, the chancellor, mooted finance for automated vehicles, the policy cropped up again.

Rachel Moore, a partner at the City law firm Kennedys, said: “The right approach is to extend existing legislation rather than redesign insurance law entirely … This is an area where regulation might struggle to keep up with the technology and we hope the government will keep regulatory reform under constant review.”

Wither lawyer robots? 

Some people, of course, are never happy, and yesterday it was Ben Allgrove, a partner at the London office of the US law firm Baker McKenzie. 

He was pleased that the government had put artificial intelligence “at the forefront of its grand challenges”, but complained: “Given the importance of the services sector to the UK economy … it is surprising that professional and financial services are not also included in the list of priority business sectors for the office for AI.”

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