The words “villages” and “street life” are now playing an important part in how housing for the older generation is changing in the UK.
Some of our older generation are no longer able to stay in their own homes, or choose not to, but still wish to retain their privacy and remain independent. The solution is provided by Retirement Villages which offer the opportunity for such people to own or rent a property in a communal setting amidst other like-minded people. They can still retain their independence and have their privacy protected. Such retirement villages were usually located on the outskirts of cities or in rural areas Whilst offering a quiet and peaceful environment, the downside was the lack of transport facilities to local towns or cities.
Recently, there has been a change in trend. Not only should our retirees be included in “city or town life”, they are also preferring more urban locations to live. Here, they have easy access to local amenities, such as shopping, eating out at restaurants, meeting friends in a pub or a coffee shop and enjoying public entertainment, without having to rely on travel.
So, what have been the main drivers for this change in trend?
Lockdowns: These forced many city and town stores, warehouses and hospitality units to close down, causing enormous loss of business and employment. With the uncertainty of the future, some owners took the major decision not to reopen such places but, instead, to renovate the premises for more promising outcomes such as gyms, student apartments, food corridors and even miniature golf courses. Included in this restoration drive was the formation of retirement homes.
Residing in high streets: Having some of the above facilities, where huge stores once were, is not the only answer to helping the economy. People are needed to avail themselves of those facilities to keep them running. A part of this need is provided by having retirement villages in the city centres. Many retired folks are financially comfortable, allowing them some extra spending money and the time to spend it. So, retirement villages being part of street life works both ways – they afford the elderly the enjoyment of local amenities and help the businesses providing such facilities with income as well.
Demand: The isolation and loneliness caused by lockdowns during the pandemic have led to more elderly people wanting to be part of community living rather than being alone in their homes. This need is enhanced as people grow older. The requirement for retirement villages, which provide the answer to this need, is rising. This is especially so in high street areas, where some now-defunct properties are available for such a purpose and where the demand for offices is falling.
Security: The security provided in retirement villages, especially in city areas, is a plus point for having such properties on high streets. The elderly look for safety and security which may not be guaranteed in their individual homes but which are provided in retirement villages. Having staff available on site is an added benefit.
Green space: Renovation of commercial spaces into retirement housing adds to a generally healthy environment. The provision of garden space and trees will sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide. So, in the midst of city and town high streets, a “go green” policy can be evolved, improving overall health conditions.
In the present situation, as avenues are being explored to improve the viability of our high streets, urban retirement villages offer great benefits to both developers and retirees. Not only will empty properties become filled, but will also bring more people onto the high street. For retirees, every amenity imaginable could be within walking distance and, along with it, more opportunities for socialising and leisure time.