Small is Beautiful


It’s not just retirees who are setting their sights on downsizing says Jane Slade. Retirement operators are building smaller schemes too

These can pack a punch when it comes to wow-factor and luxury and can be just as beautiful as their larger cousins.

Luxury retirement housebuilder Life story has no fewer than 12 retirement schemes with fewer than50 apartments each in such chi-chi areas as Hampstead, Winchester, Cheltenham, Marlborough and Wareham. Fitzjohn’s in the heart of leafy Hampstead has 29 homes costing from £2,220,000. Location is everything in this part of town where detached houses sell in the tens of millions. Facilities at Fitzjohn’s include a spa, lounge bar, 24-hourconcierge and garden and homes are designed for the modern retiree who still wants to live close to the capital’s attractions.

On the fringe of the cathedral city of Winchester is Lifestory’s Winchester Holts which is near completion. Here 33 two-and- three bedroom apartments, most with balconies, patios or roof terraces are surrounded by a rural landscape yet within easy reach of the historic city. You don’t really need too many communal facilities when you are living so close to a cultural hotspot and eclectic range of dining delights, but there is a shared lounge, kitchen and outside terrace. Two-bedroom homes at Winchester Holts cost from £540,000.

“The quality, size of home and availability of private outdoor space does not differ between our smaller and larger communities,” explains Lifestory CEO Steve Bangs.

“From a practical build perspective, fewer homes tends to mean a smaller overall footprint and therefore less time for the buildings and grounds to be completed. If your later-living home of choice is located in a development of fewer than 50 homes, which is still being constructed, this means you could be moving in sooner than somewhere larger.”

Delightful and enchanting spring to mind when describing Newlands of Stow’s 37-home development in Gloucestershire.

The mix of honey-stoned apartments and cottages combine a fairy tale charm with a rustic rural feel. Which makes it less like a retirement community and more an exclusive private hotel. There are homes for independent living overlooking stunning landscaped gardens and 15 one and two-bedroom assisted living apartments, plus a care home. And for an added bit of luxury there is a chauffeur service to take you away from it all.

Less is certainly more at Dundee House, a small development with a big feel in the West Sussex market town of Midhurst.

Comprising just 16 one-and-two bed apartments costing from £315,000 Dundee House has a spacious welcoming communal area with kitchen and honesty bar which is a popular social hub at all times of the day.

And its location, walking distance from the boutiques, cafes and shops of Midhurst, in the heart of the South Downs National Park, makes it ideal for those who want town and country, not to mention a good supermarket, on the doorstep.

Having a multi-function communal area is key to maximising space in a small scheme. Orchard Yard in Wingham in Kent has 15 two and three-bed homes as well as a multi-purpose clubhouse. This serves as a stretch studio, meeting space for the book club, area for wine tasting and a spot to enjoy a cup of coffee. And on fine weather days the doors can open onto a barbecue terrace and fire pit.

Even Britain’s largest retirement housebuilder is building small.

John Tonkiss CEO of McCarthy Stone says developments of under 50 homes are not only central to its future plans as land becomes more scarce but they benefit the local economy too.

“Smaller developments help create communities within town centres, particularly as large central sites are hard to find,” he says.

McCarthy Stone’s award-winning Greenhaven scheme near Poole in Dorset has just 37 one-and-two-bed homes.

Small independent schemes are attracting care home providers too. Avnish Goyal, better known as the head of Hallmark Care Homes, has just built two small independent-living developments of 55 homes in Essex and has plans to build more.

There is no stinting on facilities either. He has also included a cinema room, café, salon, and gardens and added the option of domiciliary care.

The Vale is another independent-living scheme built by a care home provider. It’s the first built by the founders of ANS PLC. The 30 one-and-two-bedroom apartments stand in a residential street in South London, close to three railway stations. You wouldn’t believe it but inside there is also a hair salon, library, cinema, therapy room and bar and bistro.

“The city location, in the heart of a small community, provides residents with all the benefits of living in London,” says chairman Dr Nick Dhandsa.

Aitch Group’s first senior living development overlooks Epping Forrest in Essex.

The 29 one-and-two-bedroom homes at Hollyoak House are in The Only Way is Essex country (TOWIE to fans of the TV soap). In fact locations where many scenes were shot are just round the corner from the development in historic Loughton.

“The new apartment scheme offers residents the ‘best of all worlds’, in a post-pandemic era where downsizers desire social life facilities and urban amenities on the doorstep,” explains Aitch Group director Chelsea Reynolds, who adds the company has more schemes in the pipeline.

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