Retirement developments: A life of secure, tranquil leisure

Compiled by Ginetta Vedrickas
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The Independent Online

As the population ages, many of us are releasing capital in favour of a stress-free 'lock-up-and-leave' home. Developments aimed at the over 55s are geared towards buyers wanting an independent lifestyle, yet with access to a wide range of services. Here is a selection of the finest retirement developments in the UK and abroad



Sun shines for 10th anniversary

Property: Monte da Palhagueira, Algarve, Portugal

Price: From £140,000

Agent: The Amesbury Abbey Group: 01962 760188; www.amesburyabbey.com

Agent's details: Made up of 36 villas and apartments, this well-established village has won many awards, and celebrates its 10th anniversary with an open weekend on 26 and 27 September. Properties range from one-bedroom apartments to three-bedroom detached houses set within mature gardens around 15 minutes from Faro airport, and five minutes' drive from the bustling market town of Loule. Residents enjoy a wide range of facilities which include a lake, putting green, boule pitch, two swimming pools, an independently run restaurant with live entertainment, village hall, GP's surgery, hairdressers and an Anglican church. The village has its own nursing home on site, should medical assistance or care be needed.

Retirement rating: Enjoy your time living in the Algarve, which has one of the highest number of days of sunshine per year in Europe.

Award-winning apartments

Property: St George's Park, Sussex

Price: From £340,000

Agent: St George's Park Ltd: 01444 259732; www.stgeorgespark.co.uk

Agent's details: Named "best retirement development" at last year's What House? awards for the best new homes in Britain, St George's Park is owned and has been developed by nuns from the Augustinian Order. Set in 250 acres of rolling lawns, landscaped gardens and extensive farmland located just north of the South Downs, 235 apartments are being built on this country estate which lies in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Aimed at the over 60s, owners can enjoy a wide range of services which include an on-site management team who can arrange domestic housekeeping and personal care. Amenities include a concierge, café/bar/ restaurant with outdoor patio areas, shops, library with computers, games room, function rooms where many activities are held, treatment room for visiting therapists, hairdressing salon, bowling green, tennis court, a well-stocked lake where residents are able to fish, allotments and a farm on the estate.

Retirement rating: Future phases will include a leisure facility with heated indoor pool, gym and spa.

Relaxed and safe living environment

Property: Lydgate Court, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Price: From £164,500.

Agent: Anglia Secure Homes: 01284 733992; www.angliasecurehomes.com

Agent's details: Just two properties remain for sale at this brand new development of 38 luxury two-bedroom apartments designed exclusively for those aged 55 or above. Overlooking open countryside, Lydgate Court offers residents a relaxed and secure living environment within walking distance of the centre of the historic market town of Bury St Edmunds. Homeowners will be able to enjoy a communal library, internet study and a fully equipped fitness suite. They will also benefit from landscaped gardens with no maintenance worries, a self-contained guest suite for use at a nominal charge, and an attractive communal lounge and kitchen leading on to a conservatory overlooking the gardens. Security and comfort is assured, with a door entry phone system, smoke alarms, gated parking, a house manager call system and a 24-hour on-call emergency response service.

Retirement rating: Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the nearby parks of St Edmundsbury, which has nearly 600 acres of parkland.

Sunny days at half the UK price

Property: Evergreen Muizenberg, Western Cape, South Africa

Price: From £60,260

Agent: Amdec: 00 27 833 240 323; www.evergreenlifestyle.co.za

Agent's details: Set among garden walkways in 2.7 hectares of landscaped grounds, Evergreen Muizenberg is the flagship for the Evergreen Retirement Lifestyle Village brand that Amdec plans to roll out across the country to create South Africa's first national community of retirement villages. A short stroll from the beach, the development contains 67 architect-designed two- and three bedroom homes, with 138 lock-up-and-go apartments to be constructed in the second phase. All houses are single-storey with a choice of one or two bathrooms. The development is totally secure. Measures include a manned security gate, CCTV cameras and electric fencing. The development also contains healthcare facilities, which can be adapted to residents' changing needs, and customised packages which mean you only pay for services needed.

Retirement rating: Buy into a retirement village where properties are less than half the prices in the UK, and where the South African sunshine is an extra.

Enjoy a strong sense of community

Property: Denham Garden Village, Buckinghamshire

Price: From £360,000

Agent: The Frost Partnership: 01895 836333; www.denhamgardenvillage.co.uk

Agent's details: Run by Anchor Trust, this age-exclusive development for the over 55s in Denham, Buckinghamshire has a wide selection of facilities including a village hall, winter garden, café bar, shop, doctor's surgery and the internet. A health spa features a swimming pool, spa pool, sauna, steam rooms, gymnasium and exercise studio, several relaxation and treatment rooms and a hairdresser. The developer recently launched phase three, a selection of two- and three-bedroom bungalows which have been designed to meet "lifetime home standards", thus guaranteeing flexible living accommodation as properties can be easily adapted to meet the changing needs of homeowners. Owners have access to full domestic help and support, including cleaning, laundry, shopping and bill payments. Personal care is also available if needed.

Retirement rating: An established development, which encourages a strong sense of community.

New £60m village in rural area

Property: Letcombe Regis, Oxfordshire

Price: From £240,000

Agent: Richmond Villages: 0845-607 6405; www.richmond-villages.com

Agent's details: This new £60m retirement village, opening in early 2010, has a range of aspirational lifestyle features, such as a wellness spa with swimming pool, gym, beauty treatment rooms, hair salon, restaurant, café, shop, IT room, library, bowling green, landscaped gardens, meadow, nature trail and a lake. Buyers can choose from apartments which provide independent living or assisted living apartments with greater levels of support. All properties are spacious with high-quality features including en-suite bathrooms.

Retirement rating: Sited near Wantage, 10 miles north of junction 14 on the M4, it is easily accessible for those living near Newbury, Oxford, Reading, Swindon and west London.

Designed like a boutique hotel

Property: Grove Place, near Nursling, Hampshire

Price: From £175,000

Agent: Savills: 02380 731844; www.savills.co.uk

Agent's details: Centred around a Grade I-listed Elizabethan manor house in the Test Valley, this lifestyle retirement village is reserved for the over 60s who can choose from 115 one- and two-bedroom cottages and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Features resemble those of a cutting-edge city pad. The manor house has an oak-panelled restaurant. Outside, 27 acres of landscaped grounds feature a health and fitness centre. All properties have emergency call systems linked to a 24-hour village manager.

Retirement rating: The properties have state-of-the-art facilities, such as wet rooms.

Sea views from luxury properties

Property: Lincombe Manor Village, Torquay, Devon

Price: From £175,000

Agent: Knight Frank: 01392 848844; www.knightfrank.com

Agent's details: Set in mature grounds, Lincombe Manor Village is a luxury retirement development, framed by woodland, with views out to sea. Lying at the heart of this tranquil setting is the manor house, a beautiful Grade II-listed building dating back to 1864. The development contains one- and two-bedroom apartments, which all feature cutting-edge design and modern facilities stylishly integrated into century-old surroundings. Wherever possible, sustainable materials have been used and energy-efficient measures have been taken within the building.

Retirement rating: All the convenience of new build within a period setting.

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