Last week we attended the launch of Mayfield Villages’ Watford development, one of the largest later living schemes to be developed in the UK. The development comprises 255 apartments across 10 floors with generous communal facilities, including a cafe/restaurant, hydrotherapy pool and roof terraces. The first phase opened earlier this year in September, with a second phase opening next year.
This scheme is a far cry from typical expectations of retirement development, which is often seen being situated on the edges of towns and villages and at a different scale and density. There are numerous benefits to this new form of development, namely more effective use of brownfield land, increased spending power from residents into town centres, and the potential for savings to the NHS due to the on-site care provision provided by an integrated retirement community.
However, there are clear headwinds that make development of this scale and typology challenging, namely increased build costs associated with the scale of development and amenity provision, slower sales rates than more traditional residential accommodation and a misunderstanding of this type of development by planners, which can slow or halt progress. Nevertheless, as more schemes like this are delivered, it should help raise the profile of the sector and product to local planning authorities and prospective purchasers.
The success of this scheme, and others like it, will be a real bellwether for the sector and will be closely watched by investors, developers and the wider market. However, given demographic shifts and the chronic shortage of supply of later living accommodation, it is clear that a vast range of senior living developments of different typologies is needed to fulfil current and future demand.
Denser development such as this won’t be suitable for all locations, and due to higher build costs associated with building tall, viability is often challenging outside of the South East and a few pockets of higher value areas nationally. Therefore, a one size fits all approach is not the solution for all locations, and a range of typologies and tenures outside of these areas will be needed. In addition, if affordable later-living products are to be delivered, access to grant funding or other subsidies will be critical. Nonetheless, this scheme is a landmark development, and its opening will help to raise the profile of the growing later living sector.
Thank you to Mayfield Villages (Audley Group) for hosting us.
Photo credit: Mayfield Villages