Retirement housing to grow nearly 10% over next five years

Lauren Harwood, Knight Frank

The number of housing units for older people is forecasted to grow to 820,000 by 2025, research by Knight Frank has revealed.

Its seniors housing development report said there were approximately 750,000 units across 25,000 schemes in the UK. However, 82% is older stock built before 2000. An increase in schemes with varying levels of on-site care, as well as rental-only options, is expected, said the firm.

New investment and growth in operating platforms have seen £450m of capital invested in the sector and the property consultancy has identified an additional £1.3bn to be committed.

Annual delivery has risen from a previous historic average of 6,690 units per year (2011-2015) to 8,293 per annum (2016-2020). Knight Frank is predicting this will continue to increase, reaching 14,000 units per year by 2025.

‘In response to an ageing demographic, the need for age appropriate housing has grown significantly,’ said Lauren Harwood, associate in the seniors housing team at Knight Frank. ‘Ranging from standard housing through to aged care facilities, the offering of seniors housing in the UK has evolved markedly over the past decade and will continue to do so.’

Housing with care schemes account for 57% of the identified pipeline, with nearly 18,000 units either under construction or with planning submitted or granted. There are over 13,200 retirement housing units in the development pipeline, it said.

The rise in rental product is also growing. The number of private senior living rental properties in the UK is forecast to increase by 166% in next five years, from almost 5,000 to more than 12,000 by 2025.

Growth will be driven by a rise in the number of housing with care operators allocating a proportion of their pipeline to the rental market, it said. Despite this growth, rental will only account for 5% of the total number of units, which is dominated by ‘for sale’ stock.

Over the past five years, 41,464 seniors housing units have been built, while the population of 75-year-olds in the UK has risen by more than 550,000, the report said.

It said planning remained a key barrier for increasing the delivery in England, with the vast majority of councils underprepared to provide suitable housing for seniors.

Tom Scaife, head of seniors housing at Knight Frank, said: ‘Properly incorporating and planning for senior living will reap huge socioeconomic benefits for local authorities, developers, residents and the wider community.

‘There is a need for authorities, developers and communities to adequately plan for housing across age brackets to meet the needs of their communities. Having a proper policy framework, housing targets and separate use class for seniors housing should be a requirement rather than an expectation.’