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UK in dire need of retirement housing

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A rapidly ageing population in the UK is highlighting the shortage of housing tailored for the elderly in the region, a new report has revealed.

Property consultancy Knight Frank recently published its Retirement Housing 2014 report, based on a survey of elderly in the UK on their housing wants and requirements. It warned that the demand for residential options designed for this demographic is set to far exceed the supply in the near future.

With that in mind, Knight Frank suggested that more investment and focus should be directed to property developments such as retirement villages. Those looking to develop these sort of complexes are therefore likely to find plenty of opportunity in the market.

Not enough attention to the elderly sector

According to Knight Frank's report, the drying pipeline of new housing is a industry-wide issue, but the ageing population is thrusting elderly residential development - or the lack of it - further into the spotlight.

Figures included in the report reveal that within the next 20 years, nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of the UK's population will be in the 65+ age bracket. Currently, this demographic only makes up 17 per cent of the population.

So how are the people who are going to account for that age group in the future feeling about their expected housing options in the future? Knight Frank's survey polled those over the age of 55 in the UK and found that over a quarter would consider moving into retirement housing of some description. Knight Frank broadly defines retirement housing as "housing which has been designed with older people specifically in mind, from developments purely for those aged over 55, to retirement villages which offer varying levels of care and which may have a care home on site".

The current problem, then, is that developments that can be classed as "elderly" or "sheltered" make up a paltry 3 per cent of the total residential housing pipeline. As such, the report urges the UK to follow the lead of the US, which has a number of schemes dedicated to building adequate retirement villages.

Knight Frank's Head of Institutional Consultancy, Emma Cleugh, did note though that the UK appeared to at least be moving in the right direction.

"We have seen leaps forward in the standard of housing now being delivered for older people. We now need to install a framework to drastically improve supply of housing choices for older people to meet the rapidly expanding demand," she said.

"Retirement housing needs to be moved from the 'niche' to the 'mainstream', not soon but now."

With the present supply for elderly-focused housing clearly not at the required level, property developers specialising in this area will have plenty on their plate in the coming years and decades.

Similar scenes across the world 

However, it's important to note that this scenario is not only being predicted in the UK. A new report from the Housing Industry Association in Australia reveals that a growing and ageing population will also drive the demand for new housing in the country.

According to the industry group's predictions, the most likely scenario over the next several decades would see the nation need to build an average of 186,000 new dwellings each year in order to meet demand.

Wherever in the world you are based, the growing and increasingly diverse population is likely to have substantial implications on residential property development needs. Those tasked with supplying the housing to meet this demand can take advantage of the latest software tools to provide the necessary supply.

Date Published: 07 Dec 2014
Category: News

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