Places for People and Octopus Healthcare launch retirement business

Places for People and Octopus Healthcare have joined forces to launch a new £200m business to tackle the chronic undersupply of retirement housing in the United Kingdom and provide aspirational homes for over-55s looking to downsize.

Liberty Retirement Living, plans to deliver 25 retirement villages and 2,700 units over the next five years after Octopus Healthcare created a new partnership with one of the UK’s largest property management and development companies Places for People.

Liberty aims to become a sector leader in the provision of accommodation and lifestyle services for the over-55s within the next three years.

It will set new standards in the provision of retirement accommodation in Britain by focusing on the preservation of independence, using technology to empower residents, creating a genuine village feel in their retirement developments which will come complete with on-site restaurants, shops and other community facilities – as well as providing bespoke care and support for those who require it.

Britain’s population is ageing fast. There are now more people in the UK aged 60 and above than there are under 18. In the next 17 years, the number of people aged 65 and over is projected to rise by more than 40%.

According to the Office for National Statistics there are more than 11.6m over 65s in the UK in June 2015 – accounting for almost a fifth of the population (17.8%).

It is estimated that only around 2% of the UK’s housing stock is retirement housing causing a chronic undersupply in purpose-built retirement homes when compared with the US and Australia where respectively 17% and 13% of their nation’s housing stock is retirement housing.

A residential research paper on retirement housing published by Knight Frank in 2016 examined the pipeline of new retirement housing being built in the UK. It showed that only 3% of new housing which has been granted planning permission is specifically for the elderly.

The lack of suitable retirement housing is one factor preventing older people from downsizing and freeing up larger homes for families. Knight Frank estimate that around 25% of over-55s want to move into some sort of retirement housing in the future. This equates to around 2.5 million households.

Octopus Healthcare currently manages more than £1 billion of healthcare assets including GP surgeries, care homes, private hospitals, specialist schools and retirement villages.

The Places for People Group, which is now comprised of 20 different companies, manages or owns more than 180,000 homes and 115 leisure facilities, after the organisation took a strategic decision to diversify from a housing association into a commercially focussed placemaker providing housing for all markets and price ranges.

Octopus Healthcare has invested £180m towards the creation of Liberty with Places for People committing £20m and leading on the development of the new retirement homes.

So far it has begun construction/has planning permission for six retirement villages and plans to deliver seven villages in its first year comprising of 700 homes.

Life at Liberty retirement villages will be based around community hubs such as restaurants, coffee shops, gyms and beauty salons to create a village feel while the provision of spaces for residents to share skills and learn new hobbies will establish a genuine community, helping to improve wellbeing, encourage independence and improve quality of life.

Smart technology will put residents in full control of their environment by offering temperature control, energy monitoring and video communication facilities with on-site staff and friends and family.

Jane Barker, Managing Director, Liberty Retirement Living, said: “The over-55s are a huge group made up of different generations with different expectations and aims and many of them don't consider themselves 'old'.

“With Liberty, we want to create both the building and service offering aimed at a younger market, including offering contemporary homes that are easy to look after. Most importantly however, the properties will feel like home – with a more personal environment and a selection of more targeted facilities and services.

“That’s why we have huge aspirations for growth to match the growing need for properties of this type.”

Shay Ramalingam, Director at Octopus Healthcare, said: “As a business Octopus Healthcare is focussed on improving the health, wealth and wellbeing of the UK population by creating living spaces and environments which help people to make the most of their lives. We’re currently invested in more than 200 healthcare facilities across the UK and we see retirement villages as probably the largest growth property sector in this country. Not only are we living for longer, but our quality of life as we age is improving, meaning we want more from the places we live.

“As a business we’re passionate about creating partnerships that bring new and innovative solutions to British consumers, which is why we’re excited about investing in Liberty alongside Places for People as one of the country’s most respected property managers and developers.”

David Cowans, Group Chief Executive, Places for People, said: “We know that in order to meet the needs of our growing older generation, we need to change the way we plan our cities, towns and villages, including paving the way for new retirement villages.

“Developing retirement properties to meet the changing needs of older people is key to realising our ambitions of catering for people at all stages of their life, and making a positive contribution to the wider housing market as well as local communities.”

Michael Voges, Executive Director, Arco (Associated Retirement Community Operators), said: “For many years, the UK has suffered from a chronic lack of supply in the specialist retirement sector; severely trailing countries like the United States, Australia and New Zealand in meeting the housing and lifestyle needs of an aging population.

“We are delighted to see Liberty launch with the aim of providing much needed retirement living across the country. I have no doubt that this unique lifestyle offer will make Liberty a highly-respected national operator over the coming years.”

Liberty Retirement Living has been officially launched at The Royal Institution in Mayfair on Thursday, April 6th.

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Octopus Healthcare
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