'Vision 2020: Flexible retirement and the rise of rental models' by Eleanor McCallum

24 March 2020

Published for HousingLIN's Vision2020 series, take a look at Eleanor McCallum's thoughts on how flexible alternatives within the retirement sector are shaping the future of the industry...

"Against a backdrop of challenges in 2020 and beyond, we are expecting the UK’s home ownership fixation will continue to wane, as more flexible alternatives are sought.

We expect high house prices will continue to obstruct young people from the housing ladder, challenging the age-old owner-occupation model – while increasing demand for better choice and quality in rental options at all stages of life.

As many as a third of UK millennials accept they may still be renting their home when they retire and 70% believe their dreams of home ownership are effectively over.[i] The next generation of retirees will be looking for familiar and reliable housing options to accommodate them in later life.

Unfortunately, the UK rental market seems to only be fit-for-purpose at either end of the affordability spectrum. While social rental housing and luxury property are generally of high build quality and are regularly maintained, the mid-market rental sector is notoriously beset by poor standards of design, upkeep and management.

Older generations are understandably expecting increasing freedom, opportunities and enjoyment in their retirement – which the responsibility of home ownership and mounting maintenance costs simply can’t provide.

In the past, the accepted wisdom was to feed these needs with expansive communal facilities designed into older people’s housing schemes – as a means of encouraging activity, connectivity and participation. In many cases, however, these facilities have suffered from underuse and their footprint would have served better as additional homes.

From a design perspective, we believe older people’s rental options don’t need to be distinguishable from those aimed at young professionals. The more seamlessly older people’s housing fits into existing communities and local amenities, the better.

In Stoke-on-Trent, Pozzoni is delivering compatible supported living rentals alongside general needs housing for outright sale, at a locally-loved and central location in the city.

Starting on site this Spring, the development aims to create a balanced community with a range of accommodation types and tenures available. Tree-lined avenues and a landscaped central square have been included to foster vital community interaction.

With this integrated development, Stoke-on-Trent City Council seeks to reinvigorate undervalued existing local facilities through an influx of new residents – rather than recreating the same kinds of services within an isolated, out-of-town site.

Although the more inward-looking retirement village model is popular with many rightsizers, we’re excited by the opportunities that truly intergenerational communities, complete with all the essential urban amenities, can offer to residents and visitors of all ages.

In Greater Manchester, where we have an operational base, our work with public and private sector partners – spanning housing, care, education, commercial and wellbeing providers – is developing a vision for fully integrated urban living, with older people very much at its heart.

As we further develop this intergenerational concept, we aim to show that an increasingly ambitious and expectant ageing population can become an integral, essential and highly-valued ingredient of new communities."

[i] Source: Rockerfeller Foundation, The Guardian, 7th Jan 2020

Read the article via HousingLIN here.

"... an increasingly ambitious & expectant ageing population can become an integral, essential & highly-valued ingredient of new communities."