Posted on the Evening Standard By Andrea Dean

Retirement properties that are safe, future-proofed and come with luxurious amenities.

As pension age is reached and children have flown the nest, the next step for many people is downsizing. A retirement or age-exclusive development, restricted to residents over 55, 60 or 65, could well be the answer.

Homes in this category are usually low-maintenance, secure and set in convenient locations, providing a ready-made community and extra assistance if needed. Good developers are beginning to appreciate that people in this age group want beautiful, stylish homes that offer them an enviable lifestyle.

The Evening Standard New Homes Awards 2022 seek out and honour the very best new developments in this increasingly important category in London and the South-East. The winners will be announced in Homes & Property and online on Wednesday 5 October.

A chance to downsize

Although many people may not relish the prospect of moving in later life, particularly if that means saying goodbye to a much-loved family home, downsizing can have very clear benefits, both practical and financial.

A smaller property will be far more manageable, outgoings should be lower and, of course, there’s the chance to release a significant amount of equity. Research from Savills estate agents reveals that across England, the over-65s own 3,643,000 homes with at least two spare bedrooms, and that each of these older households could unlock an average of £129,000 by downsizing.

Londoners have even more to gain, with the average downsizer in the capital netting £239,000. That’s a lot of money, either to spend enjoying retirement or to use to help younger members of the family get on the property ladder.

“Traditionally, homeowners have understandably been reluctant to downsize given their attachment to the former family home, a lack of financial incentive to do so, and a limited supply of good-quality retirement accommodation to entice them to make the move,” says Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills.

“With the costs of running a home increasing so rapidly, the financial benefits of downsizing are likely to come to the fore over the next 12 to 18 months and for some, this will outweigh the feared upheaval of a house move.”

A future-proofed home

A new home in a retirement scheme has many advantages over a standard new-build property.

It’s future-proofed with lift access should you become less mobile, and although residents are encouraged to live completely independently, a care package could be provided if it becomes necessary further down the line, without the upheaval – both emotional and practical – of moving to another property.

The latest developments have fantastic leisure and wellness facilities. And you won’t have the chance to get lonely as they are very sociable places, with communal gardens and lounges, restaurants, bars and guest accommodation in the larger schemes.

They are also highly secure, which is ideal if you are planning to use some of your newly available equity to travel, so you want a home that you can lock up and safely leave.


Everything on the doorstep

The type of housing available in this category ranges from boutique blocks containing a small number of apartments, to sprawling retirement villages with hundreds of homes.

“The pandemic made everyone’s lives much more local, teaching us to find joy in our immediate surroundings, and this has certainly influenced downsizers’ choices, in some cases taking priority over everything else,” says Richard Williams, executive chairman of retirement living provider Cognatum Estates.

“Local walks have rocketed up the list of requirements and ability to walk to facilities such as shops, pubs, doctor, chemist, church and local friends has become vital.

“In some cases people are giving up their car, or cutting down from two to one, so good transport links are important. For even the smallest properties, private outside space of some sort, whether that’s a balcony or courtyard, has become a necessity rather than a luxury. And there’s a big increase in demand for additional communal space that’s maintained by a third party.

“With family not always on the doorstep, the dip-in, dip-out nature of a community of like-minded people is proving popular.”

London locations

Cognatum Estates is about to launch 25 apartments at The Canopy, in leafy Chigwell. Aimed at over-55s, it includes a rooftop terrace equipped with heaters and blankets, lounges and private woodland, from £599,950, see

The Canopy in Chigwell has a rooftop terrace, lounges and private woodland / Ian Roman


For more information:
01491 821170 /

Cognatum, a not-for-profit company, has 60 retirement estates in 21 counties across central and southern England, a total of 928 retirement homes. All are in prime locations within vibrant market towns or villages, within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Each estate benefits from thoughtful architecture, landscaped grounds, and a dedicated estate manager.