Bexley Council is exploring ways to encourage an increasingly elderly population in the borough to downsize and move into smaller homes.

The population for over-65s is expected to grow by 40 per cent by 2036 adding to the council’s ambitious plans for growth over the next 25 years.

The council is in “critical” negotiations with the Greater London Authority for cash for an 80 place “extra care” scheme that will be subject to a planning application in the summer if it gets funding.

The new extra care housing will, the council hopes, attract older residents living in under-occupied houses to downsize.

This would free up family homes and help ease some housing pressure that the borough is experiencing.

MORE - Bexley foodbank use triples as people reach out for charity lifeline

Stuart Rowbotham, the director of adult social care, said at a scrutiny meeting: “We have pushed very hard for the extra care models that I support and want to come forward.

“We are on the cusp of being able to announce one of those schemes. I visited a scheme in a borough I used to work in and what was clear from that was that if the offer is right people will give up their under-occupied house if they see an offer that is extremely attractive.”

Cllr Brad Smith, cabinet member for adult services,  added: “It’s very important that sheltered housing schemes attract people. They might have been suitable 30 years ago but a lot of them haven’t been decorated since then and people [living in under-occupied houses] don’t want to go in there.”

Bexley Council has ambitious plans for growth that feature 31,500 homes by 2050, primarily focussed in the north of the borough.

The borough has an increasing number of elderly residents, with longer life expectancies than ever before.