RETIREMENT housing giant McCarthy & Stone is on a mission to bring back the bungalow after research suggested more than 738,000 people in the South West would consider moving into one.

Although they were once sold as the ideal home to retire to, only two million bungalows have ever been built in the UK.

In 1987, 15 per cent of all new homes were bungalows, but that figure fell to 3.5 per cent in 2007 and two per cent in 2018 as developers sought to squeeze more value out of their land.

But Bournemouth-based McCarthy & Stone, the dominant player in the retirement homes market, wants the planning system changed to help cater for the demand for ground floor living.

It argues that building more bungalows for older people could help ease the housing crisis by releasing more family-sized homes.

John Tonkiss, chief executive of McCarthy & Stone, said: “Bungalows are increasingly popular amongst older generations and should be a consideration for any drive to build more suitable housing. They are easier to maintain, are built with older people in mind and help maintain independence for longer.

“Housing like this not only brings a host of health and other benefits to older people, it also helps free up under-utilised family homes for younger generations. This shift can play a major part in helping solve the UK’s housing crisis.”

YouGov research for McCarthy & Stone suggests 61 per cent of over-65s in the South West would consider moving to a bungalow – equal to 738,344 people and a nine per cent rise year-on-year.

Fifty-nine per cent of over-65s in the region believe more bungalows should be built exclusively for older people but just 2,418 were built nationwide in 2018.

McCarthy & Stone – which recently completed a bungalow development in Devizes, Wiltshire – said planning rules have favoured high-density developments and limited the viability of bungalows.

The company wants legislation to help cater for the demand for housing designed for older people, including bungalows.

It said policies could include earmarking age-restricted, bungalow-only sites in local plans and imposing an obligation to provide age-restricted bungalows as part of the mix in larger housing developments .

Allocating specific sites could help to control the price of land that is suitable for bungalows, it said – otherwise land prices would continue to reflect the potential for developing flats or other high-density housing, making bungalows unviable.