I started this thread about retirement housing when I wrote a post a few weeks ago on a very upmarket scheme in London. Following that I wrote about the key issues that are driving the future of this market (you can see my earlier posts by clicking on “Retirement Housing” in the Topics list).
This is my third in-depth look at one of the major providers in the retirement housing sector:-
Churchill Retirement Living
This organisation is literally the son of McCarthy and Stone. It was set up in 1994 by Spencer and Clinton McCarthy – the sons of John McCarthy. It is still a private company run by the McCarthy family. Their product has not changed substantially in the last 40 years – it is still essentially sheltered housing for sale. They have not moved into providing an assisted living option.
The website is fairly good but it has a number of omissions which makes comparison with other providers difficult. Here are some of the key facts drawn from their website:-
- They operate schemes mainly in the South of England, although they have moved into the Midlands and towards the North West. They have a highly focused product with standard one and two bedroom flat types in schemes of between 25 and 50 units.
- Communal facilities are minimal with only a small communal lounge and a guest suite.
- Individual properties are based on the footprints of one and two bedroom flats. They seem quite small, although there’s no reference to the overall size. The flats are generally narrow frontage which mean all the main rooms are deep and narrow. If there are balconies at all, they are Juliette type with no outside space. Kitchens are also small and wet rooms are provided with showers rather than bathrooms.
- Purchase prices obviously vary with location. Here are some examples:
- Hampshire – one bed £191,950
- – two bed £318,950
- Warwickshire – one bed £228,950
- – two bed £348,950
- Dorset – one bed £246,950
- Surrey – one bed £255,950
There is no charge on exit which presumably means service charges are higher to cover long-term maintenance cost. If you wish to sub-let there is a charge of 1% of market value which seems high and difficult to justify.
- They seem coy about service charges and no figures are provided on the website. This is a strange stance to take because with their “no frills product” you would assume their charges are lower than their competitors. There is also no charge for car parking, probably because they provide a minimal number of spaces on site (12 for 25 units on one site I looked at). Their design standard is to provide 1 car for every 3 residents, which is not going to be adequate for a baby boomer future.
- Domiciliary care and support is not included on any of their sites, although there is a concierge. They provide a helpful location map showing the nearest medical centres / libraries / supermarkets etc.
Overall, these schemes are what they are. Basic, no frills, sheltered housing. They obviously produce schemes that are well-regarded and sell successfully. So you could say why change a winning formula?
I would say it’s rather disappointing that with all their experience they have not developed the retirement housing model any further, although to be fair many other providers are in a similar position.