The Surprising Solution for Saving the High Street: Retirement Villages
A few months ago, we speculated on what the future of the High Street will look like.
With people ditching rented accommodation in the cities to buy in more affordable areas, shops closing as online retail becomes the norm and offices downsizing in response to remote working, the onus is on city planners to find innovative ways to draw foot traffic back through the city streets.
Trampoline parks, crazy golf courses, and news bars and restaurants are all touted as ways of turning cities into leisure attractions, with experiences replacing material goods.
With these made-for-social media venues enjoying the spotlight, it’s perhaps surprising that Clapham and Balham – famously popular areas for young professionals – are using a very different strategy.
The Audley Nightingale Place is one of a number of retirement villages popping up in cities, where once stood shops and office blocks.
BlackRock, one of the world’s largest asset management firms, has recently invested £100 million for a 75% stake in a joint venture with Audley Group, while the likes of Goldman Sachs and FORE Partnership have also made significant investments in the sector. Financial Times pointed to BlackRock's investment as “the latest sign that institutional investors’ search for stable income is driving them into increasingly niche corners of the property market.”
At a surface glance, retirement homes may not seem the most prolific way to save the High Street; however, the reasoning is strong.
As well as accounting for 5% of the economy, retailers also make up 25% of business rates. Although the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called for reforms on business rates, the ‘downfall of the High Street’ – if it’s not too dramatic to dub it that –will no doubt be felt by the government in the lack of taxable retail space.
Between January and June last year, there were 6,001 net chain store closures – double the amount in the same period in 2019. As more people work from home, the surviving stores will only continue.