Coastal towns have long been a haven for those looking to spend their retirement promenading and taking in the sea air. But this picture is rapidly changing as, according to many of the UK’s specialist retirement developers, retirees are now favouring the hustle and bustle of city life.
Our current generation of seniors are healthier and fitter than ever before and so it makes perfect sense that they would be attracted by the lure of a lively social life, amenities on the doorstep and good public transport that cities and larger towns offer.
As well as being more active than ever before, the baby-boomer generation has more wealth than any other generation before them. This means that they also want more from their property purchases. That includes entertainment space and smart kitchens.
Urban locations are becoming increasingly sought after, and which is why many of the leading retirement developers are building more of their properties in towns and cities.
For example, the Audley Village retirement property at Chalfont St Dene, Buckinghamshire is close to Gerrard’s Cross with its 25-minute train service into central London.
A commission chaired by the former care minister Paul Burstow recommended that housing for the elderly should be incorporated into shopping developments, new apartment blocks and even universities to prevent retirees being cut off in ‘care ghettoes’.
This is already standard policy for some retirement developers. Churchill Retirement Living builds its communities within a 15-minute walk of a High Street.
Avonbank Lodge, in Newbury, Berkshire, due to be completed in March, is typical. Its 58 apartments are within half a mile of the town’s new shopping centre and a little further from the market square, with its Corn Exchange theatre.
So, what does the future hold for retirement communities? We could see a growth in mixed-age communities — so-called Platinum Places.The rationale behind this is that young-at-heart retirees feel a stigma hangs over an age-specific development, and so developments that are open to all age groups will stop seniors being ‘ghetto-ised’, creating a more vibrant community that is more reflective of modern Britain.