Prime’s Multi-Million Pound Investment Plan


Leighton Chumbley, Chief Executive of Health and Care Property Developer, Prime, discusses the development of town centre Health and Care Villages to breathe new life into the High Street

January 2021: With many retailers reeling from the impact of the pandemic and the rise of ecommerce, the pressing question is ‘what does the future of the UK’s High Street look like and what will its purpose be to ensure its long-term future?’. Leighton Chumbley discusses a different approach to its future; bringing urban health and care villages onto the High Street, which will re-develop empty and dilapidated buildings into modern spaces that provide much-needed residential accommodation, create new jobs and attract organic footfall back into the centre of towns, whilst also generating stable returns for investors and fund managers.

1- What is Prime’s proposition to regenerate the UK High Street through Urban Health and Care Villages?

The Office of National Statistics reports that the number of people over the age of 65 will be 13.1m by 2029, yet England and Wales has only 470,000 units of housing for older people. Many of these no longer meet the expectations and aspirations of older people. We need a five-time increase in housing with care delivery to keep pace with an ageing population. In addition, it is estimated that by providing aspirational homes for older people we could release approximately 8 million surplus bedrooms in households over the age of 65.

At Prime, we’re proposing to redevelop redundant High Street retail spaces into modern and flexible Urban Health and Care Villages. These schemes will bring the most-needed amenities into a central location, which is well serviced by transport, thus limiting the need for elderly residents to travel to the outskirts of town for appointments and basic needs. By providing an ‘all-in-one' residential and healthcare location, the schemes will help tackle the inequalities in the health and social care services, as well as support the UK’s rapidly ageing population by providing a wide range of day-to-day facilities.

By bringing these combined facilities into central locations, we are delivering access to social equality for all, as well as enhancing the local economy, whilst generating viable returns to investors and fund managers that will support the development of these schemes. It also ensures that those later on in life are able to pursue an active and engaged lifestyle, benefitting their mental and physical wellbeing.

Each concept will be entirely bespoke to the local community and will deliver a number of services. The health aspect of the schemes could comprise:

  • Primary care services (GPs)
  • District nursing services
  • Physiotherapy services
  • Podiatry services
  • Community mental health services
  • One stop clinics
  • Pharmacies
  • Healthy eating education spaces
  • Minor surgery and diagnostics services

We’re also proposing to ensure that there is space for the whole community. This mix of services and facilities being offered would help support the High Street’s other uses by bringing consumers back to the town centre, helping increase footfall and encourage growth in local businesses. Our plans would include transforming substantial units that are neglected, run down or no longer viable into valuable community hubs that provide anything from:

  • Library services
  • Flexible use community spaces for drop-in services and the third sector for meetings, education and classes
  • Hot desking spaces

The care element of the schemes would include delivering:

  • Purpose built later living homes
  • Modern, state-of-the-art care homes with high-end ensuite bedrooms with wet room, featuring facilities such as hydrotherapy pools

For those of retirement age that want an active and engaged lifestyle, having later living homes on the High Street would address this. New, updated care homes would help to increase the quality of life of many elderly people so we’re looking at developing anything between 40,000 sq ft to 250,000 sq ft of housing for older people.

2- Why is Prime focusing on the UK High Street?

There are currently around 50,000 retail units standing empty across the UK, generating no returns for investors and fund managers and not benefitting the local community in any way. Town centres feature too much retail space that is the wrong size and inflexible for retailers’ needs.

As Mary Portas, the Queen of retail herself explained, when key buildings on the High Street are lifeless or in a state of poor condition, they can destroy the spirit of a town. This in turn pushes customer footfall away from the High Street to larger shopping centres on the outskirts of a town or online, increasing the decline of our town centres.

3- Which areas in the UK is Prime looking to deliver its Health and Urban Care Villages?

Initially we are targeting High Street locations in strategic towns across the UK, with plans for our first schemes moving forward. We are currently in the final stages of securing a significant site on a High Street in a major town in the South East, which would deliver a £200 million health and care village. The proposals comprise between 150 to 200 later living homes, health and wellbeing services, as well as a number of other community benefits that would completely transform the area into a bright and thriving community that would make the High Street an attractive place for new residents to enjoy and the local population to visit and benefit from.

Delving into our impact assessment figures, we devise that the town’s population, which is between 95,000 to 100,000 people, could facilitate an Urban Health and Care Village scheme of 175,000 sq ft and above. Looking forward at other potential schemes that could mirror this, there are over 100 towns and cities across the UK with this population size that could benefit significantly from a similar scheme.

4 - What is the impact that will be felt on the High Street with this offering?

With our proposals there will be additional reasons to visit town centres, which in turn will increase footfall in surrounding shops. By increasing footfall, the High Street will get its buzz back and be a pleasant place for all. This does not mean that there won’t be any shops left on the High Street, just that those empty units will be repurposed. Our vision is for our Urban Health and Care Villages to act as a catalyst to revitalise town centre locations and provide an attractive location for retailers and other developers.

5 - What is the financial impact of Prime’s proposals?

According to social and economic impact assessments, for every £150 million pound spent there is a £400 million social economic impact, so whilst there are a multitude of potential returns from an investment perspective the wider benefits to the local economy and health care systems will be major.

Regarding the potential financial impact, it is reported people aged 65 and over in the UK contribute approximately £54 billion to employment and an additional £95 billion to informal caring activities. If older people live in a more central location, they can easily reach amenities. This allows them to remain independent, whilst also providing financial benefit to existing businesses through increased footfall and reducing the likelihood of further diminishing the High Street. In addition, this is also likely to increase jobs for local people.

Providing these services and facilities all in one place will alleviate financial and timing pressures on the NHS as well. For example, the cost of hospitalisation and social care for hip fractures, many of which are caused by falls, is around £2 billion a year. Residents are less likely to fall in appropriate settings and they have the services that they require on their doorstep, helping to reduce delays in hospitals and speed up recovery which in turn saves the NHS and local authorities potentially billions of pounds.

From an investment perspective, the financial benefits include retail units currently leased out remaining tenanted and an increase in interest from other retail providers in empty units due to the increased footfall on the High Street.

6 - Is this a brand-new concept?

Yes, this is a completely unique to the UK. Never before have the services and homes we’re looking to provide been brought together as a single solution to reverse the decline of the High Street. We’re really excited about the potential projects we have in the pipeline and can’t wait to see how the sector develops in the UK as a way to uplift and bring life back into our town centres, as well as boosting the value of the real estate within them.

7 - Who will be involved in the projects?

There will be a wide range of stakeholders involved in our proposed projects, including local authorities, fund managers and investors, property consultants, public and independent care providers, construction contractors and the general public. We are also working with a range of investors to support these projects and bring this vision to life in towns and cities across the UK.

For more information about Prime, its services and how it hopes to uplift the High Street the team can be contacted by telephone on 01905 362120 or email enquiries@primeplc.com

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