With one in four of the UK population expected to be over 65 by 2037, according to the Office for National Statistics, it’s no surprise to see the later-living sector flourish in recent years. 

Such is the level of interest, Savills estimated in February that £4.6bn had been invested in this subsector in the UK in the previous 18 months. Both investors and developers are clamouring for a bigger slice of the later-living market.

We are already starting to see the impact of this investment on the ground, with new retirement communities and care facilities springing up across the country. These properties range from affordable schemes in some of the poorest neighbourhoods right up to high-end developments in the UK’s most exclusive postcodes.

On 23 June, Property Week will be holding the Later Living conference, which will take place in London and be streamed online. It will provide an opportunity to learn from leading figures in the later-living sector and network with peers. Delegates will also hear from some of the later-living category finalists from this year’s RESI Awards about how they have innovated to keep up with the needs and expectations of older residents.

Below, we profile some of the ways these organisations are adapting.

Inspired Villages

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Sustainability might be high on many developers’ agendas, but for Inspired Villages, it is front and centre of its expansion plans.

Last year, Legal & General and NatWest Group Pension Fund entered into a joint venture agreement to invest £500m into the later-living specialist’s portfolio.

Under the 15-year partnership, it will grow its portfolio from six to 34 villages, with a particular focus on net zero carbon energy schemes, providing specialist accommodation for up to 8,700 older people.

It has already broken ground on the UK’s first net zero carbon regulated energy retirement villages – Millfield Green in Bedfordshire and Ampfield Meadows in Hampshire – with more planned in 2022.

The villages will use renewable energy generation through on-site photovoltaics and feature electric vehicle charging, improved insultation, mechanical heat vent recovery units and either ground-source or air-source heat pumps.

The developer is also investing in making its communities happy and healthy places for residents to live. This includes providing ‘wellbeing navigators’ whose job it is to organise sport and arts activities as well as helping residents to settle into their new homes.

McCarthy Stone

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Over the past two years, McCarthy Stone has entered a range of new partnerships to help support its growth ambitions.

This included securing the biggest investment deal in the UK retirement sector last year by raising around £650m from private equity firm Lone Star, and through forming a partnership with Anchor to deliver nine affordable retirement communities across England.

The joint venture with Anchor will deliver more than 1,000 multi-tenure properties with a gross development value of around £250m, making it one of the largest retirement schemes in the sector.

McCarthy Stone has also launched the UK’s first rental investment fund in the retirement sector, raising £300m to help build an initial 250 purpose-built units, with a further potential 400 units to follow.

Despite the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the company also managed to complete around 1,400 retirement apartments in 2021.

Over the next five years, McCarthy Stone plans to deliver around 1,500 affordable shared ownership units after securing a £94m grant.

At least 25% of these units will be delivered using modern methods of construction (MMC) and will be focused in levelling-up areas in the north and Midlands.

The company has already started to use MMC at its development in Hexham and a further 40 more sites will be built in this way.

Housing 21

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Not-for-profit provider Housing 21 manages around 20,000 retirement and extra-care properties in England. In recent years, it has evolved its offer to ensure its residents receive both high standards of accommodation and care.

Its services include providing extra-care accommodation where couples stay together, as well as offering pet-friendly accommodation to help combat loneliness.

Last year, Housing 21 invested £18.6m to bring its homes up to modern standards. This included achieving an EPC rating of ‘C’ or above at all its rental properties and spending £3.6m on new heating systems and improvements to the fabric of its buildings to help cut residents’ fuel bills.

It has started providing wifi for residents at an increasing number of properties, as well as installing smart TVs and piloting Sparko, a way to connect with family, community and local services via TV.

As a dementia-friendly organisation, Housing 21 works with the Alzheimer’s Society and experts to build understanding of the condition and improve the quality of care provided to those living with dementia.

In Norfolk, its Meadow Walk development has been designed with this in mind, incorporating £90,000 worth of dementia-friendly features aimed at encouraging social interaction and providing activities that prompt long-term memory recall.

The scheme has also been designed to enable residents with sight impairment and dementia to more easily identify different areas and navigate their way around by using colour-coded floors, accessories and seating.

Adlington Retirement Living

While many developers in the later-living sector contract out elements of the design and build process, Adlington Retirement Living not only manages the design and build stages, but operates its own communities, ensuring they provide high-quality and stimulating places for residents to live.

Its recent developments include The Woodlands, a four-storey building in Heaton Mersey, Stockport, that comprises 63 private apartments for the over-65s. It offers a range of communal facilities located within a social hub, including a table-service restaurant, a coffee lounge, a guest suite, hair and therapy salons, an activity studio and a mobility scooter and bicycle store.

The apartments range in size from one to three bedrooms, with the three-bedroom option proving increasingly popular with downsizing couples.

The apartments have high levels of insultation and all-electric heating, helping to minimise energy bills. Solar panels, LED lighting and electric vehicle charging points have also been added.

Resident safety and security remain of paramount importance to Adlington. Emergency fall buttons are installed in its wetrooms and lifts, with calls going directly to the on-site support team.

A sophisticated wireless emergency call system is also fitted within each apartment and at key locations around the building.

Conference details

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Property Week’s Later Living conference will take place on 23 June at The America Square Conference Centre in London.

It will be chaired by BBC home editor Mark Easton and will include sessions on sustainability, investment and technology, as well as dedicated networking opportunities.

Delegates who are unable to attend in person can book an online pass.

To see the full agenda or book a place, visit www.laterliving.propertyweek.com