In the past 5 years there has been a substantial increase in interest in providing specialist retirement housing with a number of new entrants into the market joining the established providers. Unfortunately, the UK planning system, which typically moves at the speed of rock erosion, inhibited the growth of the sector as developers struggled to obtain workable consents.
At the same time, the traditional retirement developers have recognised the need to change their product and are now seeking to imitate the retirement village model which provides not only bricks and mortar but also social support and care support.
Last summer Baroness Andrews made some comments during the debate in the House of Lords on the Housing and Regeneration Bill when she suggested that house builders could divert some of their development programme into retirement housing.
While the sentiment is commendable, this is unrealistic and the experienced providers of assisted living and the retirement village products go in fear of increasingly desperate house builders trying to rebadge surplus housing stock in order to achieve a few quick sales.
A sustainable assisted living development involves a long-term commitment to the provision of care and services to residents. It is not about getting the last unit sold and then heading for the hills!