Inspired Villages bucks downturn in planning permission activity as April 2020 marks its strongest month yet for planning wins despite lockdown

Inspired Villages, Legal & General’s later living business, has secured two further planning permissions, bringing the total new homes secured in the last month of lockdown to around 450.

These wins make April 2020 Inspired Villages’ strongest month yet for being awarded planning approvals. This has occurred despite a recent report by property consultant Carterwood[1] revealing a 50% reduction in later living planning activity across the UK, due to the Government’s lockdown measures.

Cementing its pipeline of specialist homes for over 65s to 2,500 over six years, with the support of partner Legal & General, Inspired Villages is now set to build a retirement village on a six-acre site in Turvey, Bedfordshire as well as a second phase of work at its Leeds, Kent, scheme, Ledian Gardens. This news follows hot on the heels of the recent announcement that Inspired Villages has won planning permission for a 270-home, £215 million scheme in Kingswood, Surrey, which will be one of the biggest retirement living communities in the UK once complete.  

Across its housing businesses, Legal & General continues to invest and progress planning for future developments, providing much needed economic stimulus and preparing for the post-covid bounce back.  This week it also announced that it has gained planning consent to deliver 154 homes, using modular construction, at a site in Selby, North Yorkshire, meaning that during the last month of lockdown Legal & General has achieved planning approvals for around 650 new homes across five schemes. 

The £60 million Turvey scheme will deliver 130 age-appropriate homes for over 65s as well as a host of state-of-the-art communal facilities for both the residents and the local community. These include a restaurant, café, library, wellness centre (comprising a fitness studio, gym and jacuzzi pool) and extensive landscaped grounds.

The Turvey site is the second Bedfordshire-based scheme Inspired Villages has been given the green light for this year, with a site in Caddington recently acquired with outline planning permission for a £120 million village with 200 age-appropriate homes.

Meanwhile, phase 2 of development at the seven-acre Ledian Gardens scheme will provide an additional 50 apartments to the existing works. Main contractor Kier began construction on phase 1 of the development earlier this year, which will see 66 apartments and assisted living units, as well as the village centre with communal facilities which will complete and open in 2021. Once complete, Ledian Gardens will have 116 age-appropriate homes, as well as a restaurant, café, wellness centre (comprising a swimming pool, fitness studio and gym), library and crafts room, available to the local community. The gross development value of the completed scheme will be £60 million.

Securing these planning permissions in spite of the current environment gives not only a much needed boost to the local economies in Bedfordshire and Kent, but also helps address the chronic shortage of specialist housing for over 65s in the UK.  Currently they are only 7,000 age-appropriate homes being delivered each year yet the number of over 65s in the UK is set to increase by 50% from 12 million in the next 20 years.

Jamie Bunce, CEO of Inspired Villages, said: “Our retirement village model focuses on holistic wellbeing and creating supportive communities that help over 65s live healthier, more independent lives. This has never been more important than in these challenging times with an NHS and social care system under even more severe strain. Receiving the go ahead to create more specialist homes for this age group is welcome news and a testament to the health benefits our villages offer. I would like to thank all of those who have been engaged in the planning process and supported our plans.”

Phil Bayliss, CEO of Later Living at Legal & General, commented:  “With a global spotlight shining on the health and wellbeing of our ageing population, never has independent living focused on extending health span and leading to less reliance on the national healthcare system had a greater role to play in our society.  Each Inspired home has its own front door, generous private living space as well as supportive and secure community environment.  This sector is a great match for our capital and I am proud of the terrific progress that the Inspired team continues to make despite lockdown in delivering further village communities to the UK.”

Neal Dale, Development Director at Inspired Villages, added: “It is hugely exciting to see our development pipeline increase to 2,500 homes for the over 65s in six years and to know that Inspired Villages is helping address the chronic shortage of specialist housing for this age group in the UK.

“Our research shows the majority of residents who choose to live in our villages move from within a 10-mile radius of the village they choose. Therefore, the schemes at Turvey and Ledian Gardens will not only have significant economic benefits for the local communities, in terms of job creation and alleviating the local health and social care system, but they will also free up the housing markets for young families.”

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