Building the Next Generation of Retirement Accommodation

Our recent report Housing Futures: The Platinum Generation, produced with property experts Strutt and Parker, explored the needs and desires of the Baby Boomers. This generation is just hitting retirement age, and over the next 20 years will represent a significant ‘bump’ in retirees. By 2034 it is predicted that the over 65s will make up almost a quarter of the UK population*.

But this generation, who we’re calling the Platinum Generation, is an interesting demographic, and not just because of their numbers. Along with the moniker ‘Baby Boomer’ they are also known as the ‘Golden Generation’; who grew up with better nutrition, the NHS, and came of age with high employment levels.

For this reason, a significant proportion of the Platinum Generation owns property outright, has pensions and investments, and most significantly is in good health. It is also for this reason that the type of retirement accommodation and lifestyle their parents enjoyed, is not for them.

They Would Like to Downsize, But What to?

The Platinum Generation has high expectations for retirement living. Many people within this generation are fit and active, and expect to enjoy a high-quality lifestyle for many years to come. Increased longevity and healthier lifestyles also mean that these retirees will not need specialist care until they are much older than previous generations.

However, many are living in their primary / family homes that are no longer suitable for their way of life. They want to reduce their overheads for the repair and maintenance of their properties, energy bills are challenging – especially for those living in large houses – and many people would like to free up some capital to spend on their children or on themselves during retirement. It is calculated that the over 65s own a combined £1.031 trillion of housing equity!

Age Concern believes that 25% of over 65s would like to downsize into more appropriate retirement housing, but the right properties are in short supply.

We think this is an exciting opportunity for investors, developers and operators. With a booming market (no pun intended), we’re already involved in building a new generation of retirement accommodation that meets the high expectations of the Platinum Generation.

So, what do they want and where will these new homes be built?

Platinum Places for A New Retirement Generation

Our report with Strutt and Parker was the result of surveying 2,200 respondents aged 65+, across the UK, about their retirement plans and desires. While many agreed that they need to plan for their care and support in later life, only 27% had made provisions for their accommodation and care.

We discovered that the most significant barriers to downsizing into retirement accommodation are:

  • Lack of aspirational retirement properties in the UK to downsize into,
  • Retirement housing perceived to not be affordable in the UK,
  • Lack of retirement housing in their area (location analysis of care homes shows that 31% of residents come from over 10 miles away),
  • The location of retirement housing is often away from local amenities leading to isolation and segregation (children today have a 5% chance of someone 65-plus living in their area, compared with 15% in 1991).

As well as exploring our respondents’ views on the current provision of retirement accommodation in the UK, we also wanted to know exactly what they wanted. As anticipated they had high expectations for the type of accommodation – generous rooms, outside space, 24-hour security, and onsite facilities such as swimming pools, gyms and restaurants, amongst other ‘must haves’.

It was also clear that location was very important. They don’t want to live in isolated retirement ‘ghettos’ away from local amenities, cultural venues, transport links, and friends and family. Instead they want to be in the heart of their community, close to town or village centres with easy access to everything the locality has on offer.

This presents a challenge for developers, planners and operators alike – where to site this new generation of retirement housing? With high demand for premium sites it’s not an insignificant challenge; but recent legislation including the 2014 Care Act and 2017 Neighbourhood Planning Act puts more onus on local authorities to make provision for retirement housing.

In our experience the most appropriate sites are surplus properties or land, brownfield sites or form part of a new multiuse development.

Surplus Properties And Land

With many buildings lying empty, both in public and private ownership, it is a logical step to build new retirement developments on this land. Examples of the type of site that makes an excellent location for retirement accommodation include: disused office buildings, pubs, surplus car parks, police and fire stations, private sports grounds, and even care homes.

Brownfield Sites

While brownfield sites have inherited challenges such as contamination, the investment opportunity presented by developing retirement housing on these sites surmounts many of the obstacles to development. Local authorities are also supportive of efforts to bring brownfield sites back into use; revitalising often rundown areas and reducing planning pressures on more sensitive greenfield sites.

Multi-use Developments

The Platinum Generation’s desire to be part of the local community, and to not be isolated and living in retirement ‘ghettos’, the opportunity to provide some small-scale schemes within multiuse developments. The provision of retirement housing within other developments will, in many cases, assume some of the responsibilities of the local authority to meet housing need for older people in their areas.

Octopus Healthcare is working in partnership with landowners, developers, local authorities and operators to identify suitable sites and invest in the booming retirement market.

All statistics quoted are from the Housing Futures: The Platinum Generation report, produced with property experts Strutt and Parker. If you would like a copy of the report or to request a copy of our whitepaper exploring the future of UK retirement accommodation contact Mark Davis at mark.davis@octopushealthcare.com.

If you would like a copy of our report Housing Futures: The Platinum Generation, or to request a copy of our forthcoming whitepaper exploring the future of UK retirement accommodation contact Mark Davis at mark.davis@octopushealthcare.com.

* www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/

How Do We Meet Demand For Aspirational Retirement Housing

The Platinum Generation (aka the Baby Boomers, the Golden Generation, or the over 65s) are estimated to be sitting on £1.031 trillion of housing equity! Many of them would like to downsize into retirement accommodation and free up some of this equity, but there is a serious shortage of suitable retirement housing to downsize into.

This is having a significant impact on the property market as a whole: limiting the available housing stock, often family-sized homes, and preventing younger generations from moving up the property ladder. No doubt many readers will know of retirees, maybe your parents, living in large 4-5 bedroom houses that are too big for their needs.

The decision to stay in the primary home is not made for selfish reasons. Age Concern estimate that 25% of over 65s would like to downsize but cannot because of a shortage of suitable retirement accommodation. Instead, retirees are often faced with modifying their existing properties by adding age-friendly features to allow them to continue to live comfortably in their homes.

This is not an ideal solution. Large homes are expensive to maintain, energy bills are high and age-friendly features such as stair lifts and other accessibility solutions are not always compatible with mainstream housing. Given the choice, many retirees would like to downsize, reduce their outgoings, and live in accommodation designed to meet their age-related needs.

Our recent report – Housing Futures: The Platinum Generation produced with property experts Strutt and Parker explored this demographic, their attitudes to retirement living, their needs and desires. We surveyed 2,200 over 65s across the UK for this report and discovered that while 54% of respondents agree they need to plan their care and support in later life, 73% have no plans in place for retirement accommodation or their care provision in later life. Furthermore, 42% of respondents believe there is a lack of suitable properties in the UK to downsize into.

There are two issues that need to be addressed if we want to enable retirees to downsize.

  1. The volume of retirement housing being built – this has declined from approximately 30,000 p/a in the 1980s, to 8,000 p/a today. *
  2. The lack of aspirational retirement accommodation in the UK.

In recent years there has been a lift in the number of properties being built specifically for the over 55s, as developers and investors have spotted the opportunity the retirement market presents. However, there is still a significant shortage; particularly as demand is set to increase considerably over the next 20 years – by 2034 it is predicated that the over 65s will make up almost a quarter of the UK population.

We need to build more retirement accommodation to meet this demand. But not just any retirement accommodation. The other key factor in why retirees are not downsizing into retirement housing is the lack of aspirational retirement accommodation available.

The Platinum Generation do not want the same retirement lifestyle as their predecessors had. For good reason. They’ve grown up with the NHS, better nutrition, longer life expectancy and increased prosperity. The average 65 year old today expects to live for longer and in better health than their parent’s generation, enjoying an active and rewarding lifestyle.

In many cases traditional retirement housing is not aligned with their needs or lifestyle choices, and this presents a great opportunity to build a new breed of aspirational retirement housing.

From our survey we discovered that the over 65s are looking for smaller properties, accessibility features, security and reduced outgoings, all factors that traditional retirement housing meets. However, they also have much higher expectations for the accommodation, onsite facilities and the retirement lifestyle this will provide them with.

Onsite restaurants and cafes are on the wish list, as are exercise facilities such as a gym or even an onsite swimming pool. Generously sized rooms, a spare room or a guest suite are all important, as is privacy and access to private outside space. With so much equity tied up in their primary homes, as well as pensions and investments, the Platinum Generation is also prepared to pay for this type of retirement living.

All these factors add up to a very exciting opportunity for investors, developers and operators to meet demand for aspirational retirement housing. Schemes such as Liberty Retirement Living are a great example of this. With our partners, Places of People, we have plans to deliver 25 retirement villages and 2,700 units over the next five years. More details about this exciting project can be found here.

All statistics quoted are from the Housing Futures: The Platinum Generation report, produced with property experts Strutt and Parker. If you would like a copy of the report or to request a copy of our whitepaper exploring the future of UK retirement accommodation contact Mark Davis at mark.davis@octopushealthcare.com.

If you would like a copy of our report Housing Futures: The Platinum Generation, or to request a copy of our forthcoming whitepaper exploring the future of UK retirement accommodation contact Mark Davis at mark.davis@octopushealthcare.com.

* https://www.demos.co.uk/files/Demos_APPG_REPORT.pdf?1415895320

What Are Your Options For Developing New Primary Care Premises?

According to BMA survey 4 out of 10 GPs believe their premises are unfit for purpose. They are struggling to deliver essential primary care services because buildings are out-dated, cramped and have seen no real investment in the last decade or more.

Many primary care providers are dealing with more patients, with more complex medical needs, in buildings with limited access for wheelchair users or people with mobility issues, sharing consulting rooms with colleagues, and often in a poor general state of repair. Delivering on the government’s targets to provide more community-based care is simply not feasible in many GP premises.

While in some situations refurbishment is an option, for many the only real solution is to develop new purpose-built primary care premises designed to meet demands from patients, and government targets, now and in the future. New facilities are vital for delivering the ambitions of the Five Year Forward View to grow the primary care workforce, extend access to general practice and to deliver a wider range of services in the community.

So what are the options available to GPs and other primary care providers?

Owner Occupied Premises

The traditional model has been for GP practices to own their own premises with partners investing in the property and facilities. While ownership is attractive, the capital value of land and property being a key driver, ownership comes with inherent challenges.

The lack of investment in updating existing premises highlights the problem that GP partners face in getting funding to improve facilities. Any major refurbishment project, or the development of new premises, also comes with risk. Partners often don’t have the appetite for being personally liable for any losses. Even when a LLP (Limited Liability Partnership) exists, if the company has no assets and the development requires 3rd party funding, partners may still need to provide personal guarantees.

Another challenge for the ownership model is the issue of recruiting new partners and what happens when existing partners want to retire. Buying out a senior partners’ share in the practice to secure a partnership, is a model that is looking increasingly outdated. Many younger GPs don’t want to take out large loans to buy their share of the premises under the practice agreement. Nor do they want the personal liability, risks and additional costs associated with owner occupied premises.

At the other end of the GP career ladder are GP partners wanting to release their equity from the partnership and retire. In some cases, because of the issue of recruiting new GP partners, practices have been forced to close down. A poll by the BMA suggests that a third of GPs are planning to retire in the next five years.

Those GP practices who decide they do want to continue owning their own premises, having secured investment for redevelopment or to develop new premises will need to source an experienced project manager / surveyor to oversee the development.

They will need a clear idea of what you want so they can put the development out to competitive tender, and the devil is in the detail. Costs can escalate rapidly if changes are needed as the building work progresses. What may seem like an inconsequential change can have ramifications for the rest of the build. Therefore it is vital that the partnership considers their options carefully, assesses their requirements now and in the future, and draws up a detailed strategy and plan.

Leasing Primary Care Premises

The alternative to premise ownership is to lease property. The trend towards this model is led in part by the NHS who favour GPs as tenants, and also the issue of securing investment for redevelopment, as well as the recruitment vs. retirement challenge outlined above.

While naturally the lease model means that GP partners no longer enjoy the capital value of the asset which property ownership affords them; it does remove many of the risks and liabilities that are considerably less attractive.

By partnering with a private sector developer, GP partners can focus on what they’re best at – delivering excellence in primary care services and also improving community-based care as a result of having the right premises and facilities.

A specialist primary care developer will secure investment and manage the entire project. This route can also result in more innovative, future-thinking premises as specialist developers draw on their experience with other primary care developments.

For owner occupied GP practices, leasing can also be an option. As property partners with The Lewisham Care Partnership (TLCP) we have facilitated a sale and leaseback of the Morden Hill Surgery, providing for the eventually replacement with new premises. This allowed equity release to the property owning partners, of whom some plan to retire in the near future, and the investment required to ensure that the surgery can meet demand from a growing patient list.

Find out more about our partnership with TLCP here.

If your practice requires investment to ensure it is fit for purpose and a sale and leaseback agreement is of interest, get in touch with our team to discuss your options. Call 0203 142 4829 or email Tim.meggitt@octopushealthcare.com