The country faces a ‘critical’ undersupply of age-appropriate homes, with large-scale developments of retirement housing needed, Knight Frank has concluded in its latest analysis on the sector.

Its research, titled The case for Retirement Housing, found that around 25% of over-55s would consider downsizing or moving into retirement housing. If the same assumption is applied to the over-65s, there is potential demand from an extra 582,283 people, the property consultancy said.

There are 11.8 million people in the UK over the age of 65, which Knight Frank forecasts to rise by 20% over the next decade.

By 2050, one in four people in the UK will be aged over 65 or over.

However, Knight Frank said the gap between the potential pool for demand and the current supply is ‘stark’.

Present stock, which includes age restricted over-55s housing and housing with care, comprises 725,000 homes, which equates to just 2.6% of the total property stock in the UK.

Tom Scaife (pictured), head of retirement housing at Knight Frank, said: ‘The forecast growth in the UK’s older population, coupled with a need for housing that can free up family homes and help alleviate the stress on the NHS and social services, means that the case for retirement housing delivered at scale has never been stronger.

‘In its basic form, retirement housing can help reduce loneliness, is a safer environment in a community setting and reduces visits to hospital. The scenario of falling down the stairs at home, commencing a cycle of increased frequency and finally, the need to go into a care home could be negated.’