Modern Retirement Living: Looking to the future

Published: 8th September 2021
Area: Real Estate & Planning

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Retirement Living: the future

As the UK population gets older, retirement living should be gaining traction and becoming increasingly important. However, in order to attract new residents and convince councils and developers that it’s a sector worth prioritising, a more modern approach is needed.

Developers themselves have an opportunity to revolutionise retirement living, and now is the ideal time to set the wheels in motion. Nevertheless, there are some considerations to be made before jumping into this important sector.

What is retirement living?

There are three main options when it comes to accommodation and care for older people:

  •  Traditional homes:  A privately-owned or rented home

  • Retirement living:  Homes and communities especially built for later living. These usually include on-site care and amenities, such as gyms and communal spaces, while giving residents their own independent space.

  • Nursing care: Specialist facilities, where care is the main focus.

What trends are we seeing in the sector?

To successfully tap into this evolving market, developers should be aware of trends that currently define the sector.

These are:

  • Retirement living is growing - With more developers and investors looking to work in the sector, there will be greater diversification in terms of offering. Uniqueness will pay off.
  • Moving away from the property ladder – Although the older generations are often of the opinion that buying is best, when it comes to later living, renting may be the most sensible option, offering increased flexibility in a cost-effective manner.
  • Improving quality of life – Retirement living should focus on quality of life, as well as care. Desirable amenities and a sense of community raise retirement living above traditional housing or nursing care.
  • Flexibility in the golden years – More and more, highlighting the flexibility that retirement living offers to its target audience is key. Whether that’s showing the benefits of renting or offering a try before you buy approach, flexibility gives older people much-needed autonomy.
What about planning?

There are some important caveats that developers need to understand about the process of securing planning for retirement living communities, buildings and homes. These include:

Brownfield and greenfield – Brownfield restoration won’t pose much of an obstacle. However, if developing in a greenfield area, there may be increased scrutiny from planning authorities. However, including plenty of detail around how the development will benefit the wider community, for example specific amenities, is likely to make the planning process smoother.

Design – The National Planning Policy Framework includes certain aspects that must be kept in mind when designing a retirement development, such as accessibility, light and space. The recent amendments to the NPPF now include a definition of ‘Older People’.

Affordability – Affordability is a major concern, so although great amenities will attract interest, it’s essential to keep the target audience in mind and find the right price range.

Communicate with councils – Working with councils to offer a development that will truly benefit the community will help when it comes to planning. Their priority is the local area, so the developer should show that they share the same priorities, where possible.

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Could multi generational living ease the pandemic effects effects on the housing sector? Louise Drew looks at village life and the environmental and social benefits.

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Louise is the Head of the Building Communities team, having a passion for delivering development that brings major benefit to residents in terms of health, wellbeing, education, employment and the environment.

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