‘A London that works for older people is one that works for everybody’

Friday 19 February 2016

Image: 21st Century Alms House_Witherford Watson Mann Architects

‘A London that works for older people is one that works for everybody’. That is the key principle behind a new report on the challenges and opportunities represented by London’s ageing population, launched by joint author Hank Dittmar at NLA this morning.

The report, called ‘Ageing London’, figures as the third in a suite of four produced by the Mayor’s Design Advisory Group (MDAG) and is intended to guide thinking in the run-up to the mayoral elections later this year and next iteration of the London Plan.

MDAG chairman Daniel Moylan said London was experiencing major demographic change, with the number of those over 60 set to double in the next 15 years to over two million. And not only was this new sector of society increasingly demanding, said Moylan, they know what they want and are increasingly able to argue for it politically.

Dittmar said cities have historically revolved around the young but London is ageing and its situation will be mirrored in cities across the world. ‘It is seen as a challenge, but we think it is an opportunity’, said Dittmar. A positive approach now, said Dittmar, could really see London lead the way as a ‘truly age-friendly city’, with older Londoners representing a significant factor in the health and livelihood of London. Older people could drive economic growth and provide support for intergenerational cohesion, MDAG recommending that the mayor create new spaces for intergenerational working. But this must be supported by new and innovative choices for later life in the sphere of housing, especially since the result of a dysfunctional market is that we are failing to look ahead, said Dittmar. There should be more attention paid to creating more flexible new housing, but also to allow the majority who wish to remain in their own home to be better supported in modifying their homes, perhaps under permitted development. Other issues raised included the need to better provide toilets and seating across the capital, the former perhaps through the Freedom Pass allowing older people to use commercial premises without charge.

What was trailed as a ‘debate of staged intensity’ by Moylan followed, with Pegasus Life design director John Nordon, Housing, Learning and Improvement Network director Jeremy Porteus, Levitt Bernstein director Irene Craik and Business in the Community Age at Work director Rachael Saunders. Issues covered included the viability of housing projects for older people in central London, health and wellbeing, loneliness, and one of the report’s other main recommendations: that a deputy mayor be established to champion all-age friendly London.

By David Taylor, Editor, NLQ 


The full report is downloadable here: http://newlondonarchitecture.org/docs/mdag_ageing_london_interactive.pdf

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