Retirement Villages – ‘Grey Ghettos’ or something altogether better?

Retirement Villages – ‘Grey Ghettos’ or something altogether better?

Retirement villages [or retirement communities] have existed since the time of the Romans and as is often the case today, where the Americans lead, with ‘active communities of older people’, the UK will surely follow.

Independence for older people has been a growing clarion call in recent years in order to offer the elderly a range of choices and improve their quality of life. Retirement villages would appear to achieve just this.

Retirement Villages are still a relatively new type of development in the UK market, as some planning authorities have been quite resistant in granting permissions. Consequently in the UK we are somewhat behind the types of developments happening in the United States and Australia for example, where such villages are common place and more widely accepted.

Some of the benefits of Retirement Villages are as follows:

• They enhance independent living with security
• Economies of scale with a larger development
• Better accessibility and affordability
• Reduces the potential impact on local NHS and Social Services
• Contributions to the local communities
• The benefits of a bespoke village offering a better quality of independent lifestyle for as long as possible

We have noticed at WWA that in the last six months our own involvement with Retirement Villages has increased considerably.

In the London Office we have been working on some difficult planning issues to try to unlock and progress the Woodlands Retirement Village in Hertford, which will provide 92 Close Care Apartments and an 80 bed Care Home.

Our office neighbours in Truro, Cornwall Care, have recently received Planning Permission for their Wadebridge Care Village, which is a £15,000,000 project that will deliver 75 Care Cottages around a 72 bed nursing home. In addition they are exploring the possibility of two further land opportunities for Retirement Villages in Cornwall.

The model of providing Close Care type apartments ‘for sale’ and using the revenue from the sale to fund the building of the central nursing home, is not a new model. Indeed it is one we have experience with at the Brendoncare’s Mary Rose Home in Alton, Hampshire.

We believe that this particular sector is set to grow in the next decade, as this type of development will offer older people a much greater choice of living arrangements as well as enhancing their quality of life, health status and sense of well-being and security.

In delivering Retirement Villages, health and social care providers are able to deliver community services in a much more effective and efficient way and in addition the potential to benefit the reliance on acute health services through the provision of intermediate care is significant.

By Chris Booth, Director