Better Connected


Jane Slade discovers some new retirement hotspots with fast-track access to the capital

Less than a decade ago, wealthy retirees looking for a luxury apartment in London resembling a five-star hotel - had to move into one.

Camelot film star Richard Harris lived at the Savoy Hotel for 15 years. He died there in 2002 after his ex-wife was alerted by staff that he hadn’t removed his Do Not Disturb sign for a week. He was wheeled out on a stretcher memorably exclaiming, ‘It was the food’.

The late Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher moved into the Ritz Hotel after spending Christmas 2012 in hospital, rather than return to her five-storey home in Belgravia. She died in her luxury suite four months later aged 87.

Audley Fairmile & Audley Wycliffe

Now the capital has several luxurious retirement communities including the 10-storey Battersea Place overlooking Battersea Park; the all-rental Auriens in Chelsea and newly-opened Riverstone Kensington and Riverstone Fulham. Many other high-end retirement providers have moved into fashionable areas too such as: Audley (Clapham Common) and Elysian (Stanmore and Hampstead).

With competition hoting up and land prices rising, it's no wonder that operators are turning their gaze toward fashionable enclaves outside London, such as Cobham (known as the Beverley Hills of Britain), Byfleet and Chertsey in Surrey and even beyond, to create out-of-town communities within striking distance of the capital. Better known as footballer havens because of their proximity to Chelsea and Fulham, Cobham and nearby Chertsey are now attracting discerning retirees seeking a slower pace of life and a fast route to the bright lights.

Fulham Riverside

Lifestory’s modern retirement development Cobham Bowers comprising 53 one-and-two-bedroom apartments is a short walk from Cobham, a charming village with individual boutiques and high-end restaurants – including The Ivy. It’s also close to Grade 1 listed Painshill Park with its ‘living painting’ 18th century landscaped gardens, dramatic follies, and stunning views. And all within a 40-minute train journey from Waterloo.


Nick Sanderson, CEO, Audley Group, which is building Audley Fairmile, its second scheme in Cobham, says: “Many have spent their lives enjoying the things London has to offer, whether that's theatre visits, restaurants, museums, shopping or simply taking in the sights. Retirement offers more time, and opportunity, to enjoy those things, and being within touching distance of the capital is something many of our prospective owners are looking for.

“We do have a retirement village in Clapham, for those that want to live in the city. For others, it’s the ability to day trip easily that is appealing. Audley Fairmile, in Cobham, Audley Wycliffe Park, in Buckinghamshire and Mayfield Watford are just some of our villages that offer very easy access to London on public transport.”


Audley Fairmile & Audley Wycliffe

Not far from Cobham in Chertsey, later-living specialist Rangeford is building a community for nature lovers in a rural 11-acre setting. Homewood Grove launches off plan in spring 2023, and will have 116 one, two-and three-bedroom apartments with a wellbeing centre, gym, dance studio, bistro and bar. The village is within easy access of the M25 and under five miles from several train stations offering services into Waterloo in under an hour.


Down the road, the Retirement Villages Group is creating its first integrated in-town development in the heart of West Byfleet in Surrey. Comprising 196 homes, Botanical Place will be a luxury-landscaped scheme with a new central public square, local shops and the town’s library.   The village will feature a café and restaurant, cinema screening room, and gym and wellness centre – all open to the homeowners and wider community.


Fulham Riverside

West Byfleet, which has a direct 30-minute train service into London Waterloo, has also caught the eye of Lifestory. It is building 75 one-and-two bedroom apartments for the over 60s, a short walk from the town centre. Homes at Highfields are available to buy or rent.

Further down the Portsmouth Road on the south coast, there's exciting news for sea-loving retirees. A Grade II listed former naval hospital overlooking the Solent is being transformed into a 62-acre waterside village.

Once complete, Royal Haslar will have over 550 houses and apartments, shops, pub/restaurant and leisure facilities. Canada House will house 36 retirement apartments and neighbouring Trinity House will have more with some devoted to assisted living.

Royal Haslar

Its spectacular location and mix of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architectural Royal Haslar, which operated for over 250 years caring for the wounded from the Napoleonic wars, Boer War, WWI, WWII and Falklands Campaign, looks set to become a prominent landmark in the naval town.

There will also be tree-lined lawns, and a private waterfront walkway, “Canada House is enviably positioned, and provides beautiful spacious apartments with some of the best waterfront views in the area,” said Pat Power, Director of Haslar Developments. “Combining historic architectural grandeur with modern specifications the senior and open market apartments at Canada House provide coastal living at its very best, with the Solent waterfront, marinas and beaches and Portsmouth all on the doorstep.”

Portsmouth is much changed since Nelson set sail on HMS victory to go to the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. There is now a designer outlet shopping centre on Gunwharf Quays and a railway. Portsmouth and Southsea station (built in 1866) also has direct rail services into Waterloo.


Jane Slade is the founder of the property website www.retiremove.co.uk

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