The role of senior living in urban centres

Authored by Barry Jessup, Managing Director

Everybody is aware of the older person tidal wave that is hitting the UK’s shores over the next few years. The number of people aged over 65 is expected to rise by more than 40% to over 16 million by 2038. With improvements to life expectancy and healthcare, older people will continue to play a crucial role both in society as a whole, and in urban centres in particular. Even today, the over 65s have over £1 trillion of housing equity at their disposal having benefited from the housing boom over their lifetime. This wealth, combined with shopping and eating habits that often complement rather than compete with younger generations means that they have a massively important role to play in the rejuvenation of our high streets and the long-term prosperity of our urban centres.

We also need to consider the occupational requirements of these 16 million people, many of whom will require elements of care and support as they grow older. As a developer focused on urban city centres, we are always thinking about how to integrate diverse communities into the places we create. We are believers in the benefits of Integrated Retirement Communities which can provide an aspirational product but also, critically, the extra care that a number of these residents will need. We are keen to embed these into urban centres not only to place key amenities at these residents’ doorstep, but also to provide broader community benefits and support the local economies. This can also help us to address broader health and well-being issues which arise through loneliness and separation from society.

Socius focuses on urban development and only ever builds on brownfield sites for a number of reasons, but key among them are the long-term environmental and economic sustainability of these developments. Reduced transportation requirements and a walking-distance-lifestyle are particularly beneficial to the older generations, and further support the argument for the greater provision of senior living in our town centres.

The UK is a long way behind the USA, Australia and New Zealand in the provision of Integrated Retirement Communities but it is clear that both the demand and now the investor appetite is there to accelerate delivery, and I am fully expecting to see a lot of these arriving in our town centres over the next few years.