Modern Retirement Living: Looking to the future

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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.

Watch our Retirement Housing Webinar

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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Blog

Repurposing the high street for later living

It is estimated that every year, unsuitable housing costs the NHS £1.4 billion. Issues with cold, damp and hazards causing trips and falls are leading to poor physical and mental health amongst the elderly. But what if there was a way to resolve this?

Last year, COVID-19 caused an average of 48 shops, restaurants and other leisure and hospitality venues to close permanently every day across England, Wales and Scotland. With a high number of empty units available, could repurposing the high street provide a better and safer solution to retirement housing?

The benefits

As reports of isolation are increasing, many of the retired generation are now seeking out sociable communities within close proximity of a town or city centre. Being surrounded by the hustle and bustle of town life offers the opportunity to take advantage of shops, restaurants and other cultural activities.

While car parking is often high up on the list of requirements for retirement living, building these communities close to all the necessary amenities reduces the reliance placed on motor cars by the older generation and could therefore be argued is more sustainable in the long run.

The challenges

However, city centre sites can be considerably harder to deliver from a construction perspective.

In the event a building is listed, developers will need to make extra considerations. As well as ensuring the basic requirements for retirement-friendly housing are met, such as accessible entrances and elevators, developers will also need to work within the existing infrastructure which can be more costly in the long term.

Nevertheless, despite these challenges, repurposing the high street for later living provides overwhelmingly positive benefits for the whole community.

Integrating a community within a community

When introducing any new building, it is important to get the support of the wider community, to avoid any issues or objections down the line.

Not only could the construction process result in some disruption, but the building design could also negatively impact existing residents and surrounding businesses. As a result, opening up a line of communication with the local authority and local residents beforehand would provide vital feedback on the project.

Carrying out prior research can also help to tackle any feelings of negativity towards the project and ensure that the location and building is in fact right for the retirement and wider community.

Although repurposing high street buildings for later living is still a relatively new concept, it could offer a viable way forward. Utilising empty units could not only indirectly benefit the NHS and help tackle loneliness, but it could also provide a safe and comfortable living experience for the retired generation.

Get in touch to find out how our building communities team can help.

We have launchedourguide to recovery and resilience, helping to support businesses and individuals unlock their potential, navigate their way out of lockdown and make way for a brighter future. Further advice in relation to COVID-19 can be found onourdedicated coronavirus resource hub.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. VisitSHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director's responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring,fundingand disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call0800 689 4064.

 

 

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Our expert lawyers are ready to help you with a wide range of legal services, use the search below or call us on: 0330 024 0333

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White Paper

Retirement housing: from last resort to aspirational living

Research developed by our later living specialists has uncovered a gap between public perception around the retirement housing sector and the reality of what service and provisions are provided. But what’s causing this disconnect?

Our report, Retirement Housing White Paper, highlights a lack of understanding about the services offered by retirement housing schemes, and in turn, a growing raft of misconceptions among the public. Although, later living schemes play an essential role in our society, our report notes that people are often unaware of their benefits. Until these are recognised, retirement housing will continue to be seen as a last resort made out of necessity, rather than something to aspire to.

In order to tackle these issues, we must first demystify the sector. Our research sets out to do this, putting a spotlight on the sector’s main pain points, as well as actionable solutions and next steps. So, where to start and what needs to be overcome for the sector to strive?

On a quest for clarity

After surveying 2,000 UK adults and 100 representatives from retirement housing providers, we found that one third of the public believe retirement housing schemes are synonymous with ‘old people’s homes’. Many also thought that only the ‘lonely, single older person with health issues’ would benefit from these schemes. These common misconceptions are something that the sector must overcome if it is to move forward successfully.

Through our research we discovered that the main hurdles include:

 

  • A lack of awareness – People were unaware of the benefits of retirement housing schemes, such as on-site fitness and leisure facilities and guest rooms, with 78% of the providers surveyed offering additional accommodation for visits.
  • Misconceptions about fees – Only 28% of people believed these schemes offered good value for money, naming hidden fees as the number one cause of their wariness.
  • Terms such as ‘care homes’ or ‘old people homes’ – These terms have negative connotations and are not representative of many retirement housing schemes, yet they are commonly used.
  • Ageism in the sector – Much of the sector has historically relied on ‘dependency models’ to attract new residents. By using labels such as ‘older people’, this perpetuates the misconception that these schemes are a last resort.
The power of positive communication

Fighting misconceptions head-on is a vital step for the sector. Educating the public and key stakeholders including local councils and planning teams by using real-life examples and case studies, positive and appropriate imagery, factual summaries focusing on NHS and Local Authority cost savings made from such specialist housing provision and reports such as ours that highlight the many benefits of this sector from an economic and social standpoint, will bring retirement housing into the public eye for all the right reasons.

Improving public understanding

To bridge the gap between perception and reality, the sector can:

 

  • Start ‘open door’ schemes – Retirement housing schemes shouldn’t be afraid to show off. Allowing people to view the space in person can instantly disprove any myths regarding old-fashioned facilities and décor.
  • Highlight the benefits – Instead of focusing on who the schemes are for, promote their benefits, making them an aspirational lifestyle choice, rather than one of necessity.
  • Be more cost-transparent – From service charges to upkeep costs, potential residents worry they won’t be able to afford the lifestyle they desire. Providing clear breakdowns of costs will put people’s minds at ease and show that these schemes are more affordable than many think.
  • Clarify services – People want to know what they’re signing up for. Providing detailed information on the services offered will help people who are looking at retirement housing to take the next step.
  • Pay attention to the language used – Move away from negative, potentially ageist terms and shift towards positive descriptions that reflect people’s wishes rather than worries.
  • Move to the digital realm – Digital literacy is rising and moving with the times will capture a wider audience. It will also make information more easily accessible.

Retirement housing schemes will always have an important role in UK society, providing safe and secure residence to those who need it, not to mention the benefits from a new, supportive community. However, our report has shown that to move away from unwanted stereotypes and to appeal to a new type of consumer, the sector must update its image. By improving the public’s understanding through marketing and education, later living schemes can be transformed into aspirational places to live.

Download a copy of our retirement housing white paper

We’re here to help

Whether you’re an established provider, a new market entrant, or a developer looking to diversify, we’re here to support you. Contact Louise Drew to find out how our dedicated later living team can help.

Our updated guide to recovery and resilience covers everything you need to navigate your business out of lockdown, unlock your potential and make way for a brighter future. Further advice in relation to COVID-19 can be found on our dedicated coronavirus resource hub.

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News

Shakespeare Martineau supports STOPageism campaign

Shakespeare Martineau is the first law firm to show support for the STOPageism campaign, founded by Guild Living, being one of the first 40 organisations to join the initiative launched in September 2020.

The campaign looks to take positive steps to stop ageism in society, bringing older people back into the heart of communities, improve the lives of older people and change the way society views ageing.

Campaigners at STOPageism said: “Ageism negatively affects all of us. The recent coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on the shocking way that our society and policymakers treat older people. Pushed to the margins and forgotten about, with their needs often thought of last – we have all seen the tragic consequences that this can have.

“More broadly – from derogatory everyday language, to inaccessible cities and poor services – ageism is sadly still a daily reality for many people.”

The campaign is focused on three key areas:

1. Changing language

2. Changing cities

3. Changing services

“We will make cities more accessible and age-friendly. From retrofitting existing buildings to encouraging architects and planners to be more age considerate in future builds, we want our cities to promote independence and inclusivity for all.

“We will promote safety and independence by making services such as financial and technology services easier, safer and fairer to use. People need more confidence and support to take control of their affairs, and we’ll help to provide it.”

Head of Building Communities Louise Drew said: “Our work with social housing, extra care villages, retirement housing and affordable housing providers makes this a campaign close to our hearts. Ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for all is absolutely critical and our specialist planning teams and legal experts are working with clients to improve the future-proofing of new developments and promote independence. We look forward to being part of the STOPageism journey and seeing positive steps we can all make together.

For more information about the campaign, visit www.stopageism.org

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Our expert lawyers are ready to help you with a wide range of legal services, use the search below or call us on: 0330 024 0333

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Guides & Advice

The environmental and social benefits of village life in retirement | Later living

Initially planned for March 2020, the Housing LIN Summit took place virtually over five days in December (7-11 December 2020), with over 700 delegates celebrating outstanding innovation, leading practice developments and sector thought-leadership from the last year.

As part of the week-long conference, our head of building communities, Louise Drew, delivered a session on ‘village life: later life living to the full’, collaborating with Wendy Griffin, Main Board Director at Nicol Thomas and Shirley Hall, Head of Innovation and Wellbeing at ExtraCare Charitable Trust to look at the environmental and social benefits of village life in retirement, particular with COVID-19 in mind.

You can view the full recording of this session below or here.

Here we provide a summary of the main points covered during the session.

What does the later living market look like?

Research shows that nearly 17% (22 million) of the UK’s population are aged 65 or over, with this number expected to rise by an additional 8.6 million in the next 50 years – this means by 2035, around a quarter of the population will be 65 years old or over.

In January 2019 we conducted one of the most comprehensive survey exercises in the UK’s later living sector, surveying over 200 respondents from a variety of backgrounds including local authorities, registered providers, private developers, care operators and businesses in the charity and voluntary sector, as well as architects and designers.

Download a free copy of our insights report.

What has changed in the last 18 months?

With regards to planning there hasn’t been any substantial change - local authorities are still divided in their interpretation of the correct Class type for later living accommodation and there’s been no government narrative for building housing for the older generation.

Listen more to Louise’s reflections over the past 18 months.

The care sector has been hit hard by COVID-19 over the last 10 months, with the occupancy by many vulnerable people all living under one roof in a care home causing the virus to spread alarmingly quickly. Read more about how multi-generational living could help support the care industry moving forward.

The pandemic has also meant later living accommodation providers have become more reliant on digital technology. Our webinar on the role of technology in the later living sector gives an overview of data protection considerations and compliance rules on data.

We’re here to support you

We have seen the benefits that secure and well-built retirement living accommodation can bring, with a reduced impact on health from loneliness and keeping deaths to a minimum. The UK is currently lagging behind when it comes to developing and improving later living accommodation, but we want to change that.

We have one of the biggest real estate teams dedicated to later living outside London and have supported the delivery of a wide range of national schemes targeting the over 55s.

From getting the most out of your plot of land to securing finance and managing sales or leasing arrangements, our specialist later living team is here to support you, every step of the way. For advice, guidance and support contact Louise Drew.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

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Our expert lawyers are ready to help you with a wide range of legal services, use the search below or call us on: 0330 024 0333

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Client

Law firm appointed to social housing legal panel

Law firm, Shakespeare Martineau, has won a competitive tender to join The Regenda Group’s legal panel framework.

The national firm has secured the opportunity to provide legal support to the North West-based housing group for four years and will be advising on a range of topics from housing management and property, to development and construction.

The Shakespeare Martineau team consists of experts from varied legal backgrounds, including housing management, litigation, social housing and later living. Planning and development support will also be provided by Marrons Planning, a specialist planning consultancy and part of the firm.

With the goal of promoting a healthy, safe, prosperous and sustainable community, the Regenda Group portfolio includes 13,000 units across the North West, and comprises social rented housing, housing for older people, supported housing, private rented property, shared ownership and housing for sale.

Rachel Gwynne, head of social housing at law firm, Shakespeare Martineau, said: “The affordable housing sector is experiencing extraordinary challenges, from the pandemic and climbing unemployment rates to global issues like Brexit and climate change, all while the demand for social housing keeps growing.

“In more ways than one, it’s incredibly rewarding to be working with Regenda, as they continue to support communities in the North West.”

Julie Vincent, director of business assurance at The Regenda Group, said: “We‘re very much looking forward to working with Shakespeare Martineau. Their team has a deep understanding of the issues facing our sector and are excellently-placed to help us navigate challenges, seize opportunities and provide the best service to our customers.”

Contact us

To see how our team of experts can help create a more sustainable future for your organisation, as well as the wider community, contact a member of our social housing team. 

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND. 

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064. 

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Our expert lawyers are ready to help you with a wide range of legal services, use the search below or call us on: 0330 024 0333

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Contrastingly, there are a lot of people desperate for affordable and suitable accommodation. Intergenerational living could be the answer to both problems.

Our partner in the social housing team, Gary Ekpenyoung, discusses the intergenerational living model and the benefits it holds:

Homeshare is an intergenerational living model that has established itself as an alternative to residential care and home visits. An agreement is made between an older person and another party, that gives the latter rent-free accommodation as long as the former is provided with companionship and support.

Loneliness, and the mental health issues associated with it, puts a large amount of strain on the NHS. The Homeshare approach could lessen this strain, through reducing loneliness and isolation, and allowing people to stay out of residential care for longer.

There is also no need for concerns surrounding the generational gap, as an interviewing and vetting process matches people based on personality, so that the relationship is mutually beneficial.

Almost 500 UK households are now embracing intergenerational living, but the Tenant Fees Act 2019, which received Royal Assent on 12 February 2019 could potentially cause a few hurdles. The legislation stops lettings agents charging excessive fees to their tenants, a positive goal, but one that could put Homeshare agreements in danger, as money is exchanged to cover admin and matching costs. This could lead to income drying up for Homeshare UK – part of Shared Lives Plus – the network managers for Homeshare.

Thankfully, Homeshare has secured Government support and recent amendments to the Tenant Fees Act have limited the impact of the Act on Homeshare schemes.

The combination of an aging population and ever-increasing rental costs has brought the value of Homeshare to the forefront. Intergenerational living is a solution to a multi-generational problem.

Of the changes proposed in the NPPF consultation draft, the following three are of particular significance:

Affordable housing

The big shift here is a clear push towards housing for sale rather than rent. The definitions of “Social rented housing” and “Affordable rented housing” have gone to be replaced by “Affordable housing for rent”. Similarly, where previously it was stipulated that “low cost market housing may not be considered as affordable housing for planning purposes” now “Starter homes” and “Discounted market sales housing” are not just included, but separately defined. Similarly, the catch all description of “Other affordable routes to home ownership” includes “shared ownership, relevant equity loans, other low cost homes for sale and rent to buy”.

What does this mean?

Whilst this is reflective of government policy in the Osbourne and Cameron years, and I suspect will be welcomed by developers, the shift away from affordable rental properties to starter homes is unlikely to provide comfort for those people currently without the means to afford to buy a property reliant on diminishing supplies of social rented housing. It also represents a challenge to existing registered providers who face the prospect of fewer rental properties being provided by major housebuilders.

Deliverable

Under the proposed changes, to be considered, deliverable sites “should be available now, offer a suitable location for development now, and be achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years” which echoes the old footnote 11.

However, the new definition continues that “Small sites, and sites with detailed planning permission, should be considered deliverable until permission expires unless there is clear evidence that homes will not be delivered within five years…” This represents a subtle shift in the old footnote 11, because it specifically refers to small sites and sites with detailed planning permission rather than “sites with planning permission”.

The new definition then proceeds to state that “Sites with outline planning permission, permission in principle, allocated in the development plan or identified on a brownfield register should only be considered deliverable where there is clear evidence that housing completions will begin on site within five years.”

What does this mean?

This appears to change the position set out by the Court of Appeal in St Modwen Developments Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and means that local authorities will no longer be able to automatically conclude that sites with an outline permission are “deliverable”. I suspect this will mean there are a few local authorities who suddenly find they no longer have a five year housing land supply.

Planning obligation

The proposed change to the definition of “planning obligation” removes the reference to a “legally enforceable obligation” and instead replaces it with a “legal agreement”.

What does this mean?

Whilst both definitions continue to refer to section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the express reference to “agreement” would appear to exclude the use of unilateral undertakings, which runs contrary to the express wording of section 106 (1). This muddies the waters as to whether local planning authorities can and should seek unilateral undertakings as a means to secure mitigation for development.

What should you be doing now?

It is, of course, important to remember that the document is currently out for consultation, and therefore the definitions may yet change.

If you are likely to be affected by the proposed measures then I’d strongly encourage you to engage with the consultation process. The consultation closes at 23.45 on 10 May 2018 and can be accessed here.