It has been estimated that at present in Britain nearly 11 million people (approximately one fifth) are of pensionable age, and that by 2020, half of the UK's adult population will be over 50. Most elderly people remain in their own family-sized homes, becoming less able to maintain them and often becoming isolated. They are only likely to move when they become too ill or disabled to cope.

In 1996 a small working party was set up to explore the needs and provision of housing for older people not needing an element of care. The target group - 50+ - were also likely to still be working. Elderflowers was later established, with the financial support of English Partnerships, to undertake a feasibility study, draft a business model and to identify suitable housing sites for development.

Elderflowers found that able older people were not well catered for in the social housing or private sector. Elderflowers saw that people growing older were looking for alternatives to the only kind of housing built specifically for them. These are 'sheltered housing' or retirement homes with a warden on call. For more infirm people there are already nursing homes.

Gated and private developments with more than just accommodation for older people are a relatively recent addition to the retirement housing market. There may be a high buy in cost and possibly high service charges. These schemes are generally run by companies who provide staff and charge fees for their services. A few are run by charities.

A house is generally the largest financial asset people own and older people should be concerned that some of the new private housing provision reduces or removes entirely the possibility of leaving a legacy to their heirs.

Elderflowers considers it very important to develop affordable new housing solutions to encourage people to think seriously about their future housing provision before old age takes a toll on their quality of life.

Elderflowers has developed an innovative housing concept for older people who are in good health and interested in trading down in property size and up in terms of convenience, comfort and a reduction in outgoings. A report has been published a free to download as as pdf document.

Staying close to family and friends is often the main reason for not selling up, so Elderflowers is promoting "staying local; living happily".

With small and medium sized housing developments integrated into towns, villages and neighbourhood areas, people approaching retirement will be convinced that it is not essential to break kinship ties.

Residents will run the project themselves by joining the company as a condition of moving into one of the dwellings. The housing concept is designed to cut the costs of the shared facilities. There will be a service charge it will be kept to a minimum and the residents' management company will ensure best value.

There are three major elements in the project:
the residential component will include one and two bedroom homes, some of which have private gardens, and a mixture of tenures.
the private facilities for the residents to share, such as swimming pool and laundry
facilities which are let on a commercial basis to bring income into the project. These could include shops or a restaurant .

The lifestyle that is being offered here is very attractive - active older people will be able to live in their own homes with a range of services and amenities to support their needs.
Background to the Elderflowers Project
Elderflowers Projects - promoting active living for independent older people
© Elderflowers Projects Co.UK 2013