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Retirement Villages Group (RVG)’s new later living community on a long derelict landmark site in Tunbridge Wells will start to become a reality, as sign-off on construction documentation paves the way for the main build programme to begin.

Final papers were signed that formally appoint McAleer & Rushe to deliver the main contractor brief and build the new 210,000 sq ft (Gross Internal Area) community development. The new community in the centre of Tunbridge Wells will deliver 167 modern and sustainable retirement living homes and offer publicly accessible amenities; a café, a restaurant, courtyard garden and new spaces for a range of retail uses along Mount Pleasant and Church Roads. 

The McAleer & Rushe team has already been on site in Tunbridge Wells for several weeks, having secured an initial contract to deliver the piling for the project. This week’s significant news confirms they have won a competitive tender process that will see them lead construction of the £115m development for its two-to-three-year duration. 

Specialising in multi-sector, mixed use schemes, McAleer & Rushe has delivered projects from Bristol to Brighton and London to Leith; a family business, the firm has grown into one of the UK’s leading design and build contractors with a staff of 360.

The build will see the McAleer & Rushe team on site in Tunbridge Wells from next month, crafting the new community for later living on this long derelict former ABC cinema site in the middle of the town centre.

The new community will form part of Retirement Villages’ celebrated Thrive Living Collection – potentially becoming just the third location for this refreshing new concept of later living communities. Its developments are situated intentionally at the heart of town centres, providing the older generation with the option to enjoy in-town living, being part of a wider urban community, with access to town centre facilities while having the peace of mind of support and an immediate neighbourhood of like-minded people with whom to share a connected, active and sociable lifestyle.

Thrive Living developments are characterised by their focus on the connection with the existing network and community in the area. Tunbridge Wells will be no exception, with dining and shopping on the doorstep, arts and cultural attractions like Trinity, The Amelia Scott, Tunbridge Wells Museum and Arts Centre and the Assembly Halls within a five-minute stroll of home and a giant back garden over the road in the form of Calverley Park.

The concept is a two-way integration, with facilities in the retirement community available to the wider Tunbridge Wells public. Along with public access to some of the amenities within the development, a new public space will form a central hub for the new development, incorporating an attractive courtyard for residents and the wider community to come together and enjoy. This area forms part of what will become a redeveloped and sensitively landscaped throughfare to Clanricarde Road from Mount Pleasant Road.

In addition, in a sector leading initiative, RVG has committed to developing the former cinema site as a whole-life net zero carbon project, meaning the new community will be net zero carbon across both its development and operational lifespan. The development will also be completed in accordance with RVG’s aim to provide a 20% net-increase in biodiversity onsite.

Will Bax, Chief Executive Officer at Retirement Villages Group, said:

“We are thrilled to bring Thrive Living to Tunbridge Wells and unlock a brownfield site that has set derelict in the heart of the town for over 20 years.

"Thrive Living is a step-change in the way we should think about later life. We intend to challenge the stereotypes of vulnerability, loneliness and dependency and replace them with a new narrative. Modern retirement living needs to reflect the attitudes of a new generation of elders, who want to live with purpose and embrace the opportunities of connected and sociable living, creating their own active, urban community in an existing town setting.

“It’s a pleasure to partner with McAleer & Rushe; we are all excited about the opportunity to revive this space and build a vital, open community in the heart of this great town.”

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