Aspirational downsizing for north London’s hipster retirees
PUBLISHED: 18:23 21 October 2016 | UPDATED: 18:23 21 October 2016
There’s a raft of developments hitting the market at the moment, which are perfectly designed to appeal to downsizers who are more hip than hip replacement (although many of these new builds, with their emphasis on lateral living, will cater for this eventuality too).
What’s a self-respecting, style-conscious north London retiree to do? Not keen to join the blue rinse brigade, today’s pensioners carry little more than a freedom pass to indicate their age.
The number of over-65s is projected to grow twice as fast as the working age population over the next 10 years, according to the ONS.
Yet, while baby boomers are often accused of being ‘property hogs’ staying in family homes long after the nest has been flown (property data agency dataloft estimate that there are almost 200,000 under occupied homes in inner London), what often goes unreported is the lack of suitable options for them to move into.
No wonder then that this property rich demographic is becoming one of the principle consumers of high end new build housing, whether targeted at them specifically or not.
Be warned though, with their emphasis on location, luxury and service, these hot retirement pads don’t come cheap.
Space invaders: Kidderpore Green
You’d expect a developer to do their research before committing to a new venture and so it’s no surprise that Barratt London commissioned dataloft to look into who might be likely buyers of new homes in Kidderpore Green in Childs Hill, at the western fringe of Hampstead. They found that many of their likely buyers were from surrounding boroughs including Westminster, Haringey and Barnet, as well as in large homes in Hampstead itself and have designed accordingly.
Reasoning that many downsizers in these areas will be used to benefits like extensive storage, outside space and off-street parking, there are options for all these things in the various styles of home available on the 128-unit development. Alongside these traditional home comforts are new build novelties, including far reaching views from the upper floors, brand new, state-of-the-art kitchens, and a proliferation of luxurious bathrooms. The Hampstead School of Art is also on site, offering a glimpse of the bohemian Hampstead of yore, with a public café opening up the site to the wider community. And should the thought of living in a monoculture give you the heebie jeebies fear not – some under-30s have snapped up flats already while 35 of the units are for rental or shared ownership.
Location, location, location: The Park Crescent
The developers of this wedding cake-fronted scheme say that the sold out first phase of apartments released for sale has been snapped up in large part by north Londoners downsizing from family-friendly suburbs to zone one. Couples who have been echoing around their empty nests near the stellar schools of Hampstead, Hampstead Garden Suburb, St John’s Wood and even Muswell Hill are buying into the central London dream near Regent’s Park, trading in large homes of between four and 10 thousand sq ft and worth anything from £5m to £25m. Homes at The Park Crescent cost anything from £3.95m to £17.95m, suggesting that even at this level, buyers may also be releasing a bit of cash as they move.
Chris Lanitis, Director at Amazon Property said: “Affluent north London based downsizers and buyers from the Middle East drove our phase one sales. For our phase two release we anticipate significant interest from British families relocating from north west London, and buyers from continental Europe and the Middle East.”
What’s drawing the buyers? The promise of handsomely proportioned, light-flooded lateral living within walking distance of central London. No need to pine after the open green spaces of north London though; Regent’s Park is on the doorstep.
On-site facilities: Buxmead
This Bishops Avenue development’s USP lies in residents’ ability to enjoy all the benefits of a hotel whilst retaining the autonomy and privacy of your own home should you prefer it. With a pool and gym on site along with personal trainers and nutritionists to call on the scheme already goes above and beyond expectations but it’s the communal entertaining and conference facilities that really set Buxmead apart.
While not solely for empty nesters, the developer, Harrison Varma, clearly knows that this is where a large part of their customer base lies, with two units already sold to long-standing Hampstead and Highgate residents downsizing from large family homes and significant interest from Bishops Avenue locals and those coming in from Stanmore and Totteridge. As if to prove that the downsizer move need not be seen as a compromise option, one buyer is even trading up in value. Buxmead buyers have strong ties to the area and want to stay close to friends and family while shifting their style of living says Immy Varma.
“The facilities are proving to be very popular, as residents have the ability to use the on-site hair-dressing and massage facilities without having to leave the development – they can also use the swimming pool and offices for an ‘effortless lifestlye’ and minimum hassle,” she explains.
“We have discovered that downsizers are looking for somewhere that will be suitable for the long-term and they are thinking about every eventuality. In that respect, the communal facilities at Buxmead which are all on one floor (with no steps) are perfect for anyone who is worried about mobility. In addition to this, the Harrison Varma team offer to customise the apartments to make them wheelchair friendly – we can widen doorways and ensure all control panels are at an agreeable height, for example.”
End on a high note: Hampstead Green Place
While the other developments are open to all, developer PegasusLife builds homes exclusively for the over 55s. They have two developments under construction in Hampstead, one on Fitzjohn’s Avenue and the other, Hampstead Green Place, between Hampstead and South End Green. The latter is a 59-apartment development which won a HAPPI Project (Housing Our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation) award for its one, two and three-bedroom homes with a gym, lounge, treatment rooms and an on-site guest apartment. There will also be a café open to the public once the scheme is finished in 2018 for a bit of added buzz.
The company is certainly committed to finding baby boomer-appropriate housing solutions: they are running an exhibition called That’s Not Me until October 28 at New London Architecture’s central London premises aiming to challenge perceptions of retirement and specifically retirement housing.
Howard Phillips, CEO, PegasusLife, says: “There’s a new generation of retirees emerging who want – and deserve – better. We are already shifting people’s aspirations and expectations by fundamentally changing the way in which retirement property is designed, delivered and managed in this country.
“Retirement housing and even property development may seem an uninspiring topic, but only because we allow it to be so. By working with the NLA we want others, particularly those who help shape the built environment, to view this new generation in the nuanced way that we do and not as one homogenous group.”
Hampstead Green Place will be completed in June 2018, prices tbc, pegasuslife.co.uk