Increasing Housing Choice

Older People

The United Kingdom has an ageing population and local authorities and housing providers need to adapt in order to meet the needs of an older population.

Three Dragons has wide-ranging experience in policy development for older persons and we have worked with district and county councils at city and rural level, as well as housing providers and developers across the country, to develop and provide housing solutions which help older people live healthier, more productive lives.  We have researched a range of older persons issues including providing evidence to the "Rural Housing for an Ageing Population: Preserving Independence" enquiry run by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People.

Three Dragons also provides the secretariat to the Retirement Housing Group  (, a leading trade association in the retirement housing sector. We prepared the RHG Guide to support viability appraisal of specialist retirement housing which is widely used in evidence at CIL and Local Plan Examinations. For further information, please contact Kathleen Dunmore.

We have developed an Older Persons Housing Toolkit which is used to assess demand for specialist sheltered or extracare older persons accommodation either on a scheme-specific or district-wide basis.

We can also advise on how spatial planning policies can help meet the needs of older people and improve quality of life to the benefit of the whole community. We have provided this type of advice for London and Northamptonshire and are currently undertaking study for Norfolk.

Custom and Self-Build Housing

Self-build housing has been a part of the UK housing market for many years but has been broadening its base, particularly as ‘Custom-build’ has grown in popularity.  Custom build is where a consumer buys a shell or part finished home and completes the final fit-out themselves or with contractors.

The Government has acknowledged the benefits of custom and self-build and has steadily introduced measures to support its growth. Local authorities too are seeing the opportunity to vary the range of housing available and, at times, speed up delivery. They are increasingly choosing to support custom and self-build delivery through local plan policies.

Where local authorities want to increase custom & self-build delivery it is vital that local plans are prepared using clear and robust evidence. Three Dragons, with support from National Custom and Self-Build Association, has developed a Custom and Self-build Toolkit.  The toolkit provides an estimate of demand for custom and self-build homes, using local data. It offers local authorities a demand led, longer-term picture of demand which provides evidence to inform planning policies, such as those in an emerging local plan.

Three Dragons is also able to advise on policy approaches and strategies to enable the delivery of custom and self-build development as well as undertaking site appraisal and viability studies for residential schemes that include this type of housing.

Building mixed communities

With large-scale developments there is a real need to achieve mixed and sustainable communities.  This has many policy-making dimensions as our research study for the RTPI highlighted.

new homes around a green area with railings Our expertise in assessing the economics of new developments (purely residential and mixed use) provides valuable information for local authorities in developing their plans as do other aspects of our work including, for example, our knowledge of specialist sectors, such as provision of older person housing, private rent, affordable housing and custom and self-build housing.  We have also undertaken studies specifically to consider how best to deliver mixed and balanced communities, for example for Eastleigh Borough Council, where we focused on dwelling mixes and the types of housing provided in the new large-scale urban extension in the borough.

We have also considered the impact of high-density housing on dwelling mix and deliverability, including the review undertaken for the GLA of how well higher density dwellings and tall buildings perform in comparison with local plan objectives, while earlier research identified opportunities to promote health and well-being in the spatial planning process.

View Case Studies

Identifying sites for Gypsy, Roma, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople communities

Gypsy, Roma, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople are not a uniform homogeneous community, but rather a group of communities which share some features but have their own histories and traditions.  The unique housing requirements for these communities will often require a more tailored approach from other forms of accommodation.  

Often responding to required Gypsy Traveller Accommodation Assessments (GTAA), which are produced either as part of a Housing Market Assessment (HMA) or as standalone reports, such as those produced by ORS,  Three Dragons is able to provide a bespoke site assessment service.

Our expertise in this area has allowed us to engage with communities, local authorities and organisations such as London Gypsies and Travellers effectively, in order to establish what really matters when selecting a potential new site.   In previous commissions Three Dragons have considered a wide range of site options; from small stand-alone sites up to assessing provision as part of large strategic sites.  We are also able to consider whether existing sites have capacity can be further developed as well as help in identifying funding opportunities.

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