Inspired Villages appoints Sonia Parol as design director to drive innovation, sustainability and resident wellbeing

Inspired Villages, a developer and operator of later living communities backed by Legal & General, announces the appointment of Sonia Parol as design director. Sonia joins the business with over 15 years’ experience in architecture, having worked at firms both in the UK and abroad such as Urban Edge Architecture and rg+p. She has a particular passion for creating later living solutions which focus on improving people’s lives.

As highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, much more needs to be done to provide safe and fit-for-purpose homes for older people. As Inspired Villages continues to develop its proposition and innovate to enable residents to live healthier, happier, and more independent and active lives, Sonia will be responsible for driving forward new sustainable design solutions, focused on resident wellbeing and creating inclusive communities. Sonia’s key focus will be on developing design details for Inspired Villages’ recently permitted and pipeline schemes, including sites in Tunbridge Wells, Bedfordshire and Surrey.

Inspired Villages, which was established in 2017, has seen substantial growth since launch. In the past 2 years, it has grown from a team of 25 to around 300 employees, with capital commitments of half a billion pounds across its later living developments. Sonia is the latest appointment for Inspired Villages following Sharon Badelek, who joined as CFO in November.

Despite over-65s already making up 18% of the population in the UK – a figure expected to double by 2041- retirement properties make up just 2% of UK housing stock. Inspired Villages, which has achieved planning permission for around 900 new homes this year alone, is dedicated to tackling this chronic undersupply. Inspired Villages currently operates 6 later living communities across the UK and is set to add to the portfolio with a further 2,500 homes over the next six years. With ambitious plans to deliver 10 villages a year, the practicality and quality of internal spaces with flexibility to adapt to residents’ changing needs will be a key responsibility for Sonia as design director.

Neal Dale, Development Director at Inspired Villages, said: “In the US and Australia, around 6% of over-65s live in retirement communities, compared with just 0.82% in the UK. Sonia’s appointment is a fantastic addition to the team and her vision and experience in creating sustainable retirement communities both in the UK and Australia will be a great asset in helping us to redefine the later living experience in this country.”

Sonia added: “I have a huge passion for the retirement sector. My journey with this sector started in Australia and ever since coming back to the UK I have developed design ideas for later living solutions that focus on improving people’s lives. Now, at Inspired Villages, I have the right platform to implement these ideas and this role gives me an opportunity to become a part of the most exciting company in the UK that is shaping the future of the later living sector.

“I no longer see villages as just buildings, but as places where our residents live. I’m looking forward to working with talented individuals who share my passion for the sector and nothing would make me happier than seeing residents enjoy living a full life in our villages.”

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