Could your town be home to the next major retirement ‘village’?

Could your town be home to the next big ‘retirement village’? Axa-backed developer on the hunt for 30 new sites with Chelmsford, Marlow and Walton-on-Thames in its sights

  • Axa-backed Retirement Villages Group says demand will surge in next decade
  • Group is on the lookout for sites with a minimum of 1.5 acres, it said today
  • Some of the retirement ‘villages’ could see the construction of 200 apartments 

A retirement home development company backed by pensions and insurance giant Axa has announced plans to build 30 new ‘villages’ for older people in the next 10 years.

Honing its sights on ‘affluent’ towns and cities across the country, Axa-backed Retirement Villages Group said it was targeting a number of locations including Marlow, Walton-on-Thames and Winchester.

Retirement Villages claims the planned urban and ‘peri-urban’ developments will be essential to meet a future spike in demand ‘from baby boomers currently in their sixties and seventies.’

Earlier this year, This is Money exclusively revealed that the Royal London Pension Property Fund had agreed to provide funds for Audley Group’s Wycliffe Park retirement village development at a 25-acre site at Horsleys Green.

Future vision: View of the entrance to the Wellness Centre at Retirement Villages Group’s newly acquired site in Chester

Retirement Villages recently snapped up a new site in West Byfleet, Surrey, and today said it was on the hunt for further sites which are a minimum of 1.5 acres in ‘desirable town centres or edge of town locations that are close to high quality amenities’.

Cambridge, Chelmsford, Chichester, Newbury, Newmarket, Strataford-upon-Avon, Wilmslow and York are all on Retirement Villages’ location wish list.

The company said it was looking for stand-alone sites or to work with partners with whom it can develop and build schemes of up to 200 apartments in each location.

Will Bax, chief executive of Retirement Villages, said: ‘As a country we have to move now if we are going to build enough retirement homes of the right kind for the future. 

‘Forthcoming generations will prize independence, security and proximity to town centres more than any other. 

‘We are looking for sites and partners to help us create vibrant new urban communities that actively promote positive, independent ageing.’

At present, there are 16 ‘villages’ built by Retirement Villages spread across the home counties, the south west and the east of England. 

Most of the group’s homes offer independent living only, but some sites also offer residential care, nursing care and specialist dementia care provided by care home group HC-One.

Desirable: Marlow in Buckinghamshire is one of the locations flagged by Retirement Villages Group

Desirable: Marlow in Buckinghamshire is one of the locations flagged by Retirement Villages Group

Retirement Villages first started developing and managing purpose-built retirement sites back in 1981. But, in 2017 the group was acquired by Axa Real Assets on behalf of their clients.

At the time Andrew Ovey, head of healthcare at Axa Investment Management Real Assets, highlighted what he called ‘significant scope for further penetration of an undersupplied market providing long-term stable cash flows, for the benefit of clients’. 

In the same year Legal & General established Legal & General Capital, with a mandate to invest in companies that actively buy and develop land across a number of real estate asset classes including affordable homes, modular homes, build to rent, build to sell and later living. 

In August this year, This is Money revealed how the Royal London Pension Property Fund had agreed to provide funds for Audley Group’s Wycliffe Park development, a 25-acre site at Horsleys Green.

Audley will be responsible for delivering the site – which is located between Stokenchurch and High Wycombe – and subsequent operational running of the village, including the sales and marketing of all the properties.

The finished homes will be sold on a 250-year leasehold basis to retired buyers, with homeowners then expected to pay a £750 monthly management charge to Audley.

Together with a percentage fee – paid upon sale of the property in the future – this income will be used to pay running costs within the community, supplement access to care and provide a long-term yield to Royal London’s pension holders.