Why settle for anything less?

Today’s retirement homes go beyond the idea of small and functional. From stately homes to wildflower meadows, there’s something to suit the tastes of even the most discerning retiree

To the uninitiated, a “retirement community” conjures up images of identical homes lacking character and individuality. To those in the know, however, it means quite the reverse – and they point to new schemes coming out in the next few months to prove their case.

Boughton Hall shows that these communities are often brilliantly located in some of the most sought-after areas, with this one just a mile from Chester city centre and sitting on its own four acres of grounds. The original Grade II-listed house, which is a former Barnardo’s children’s home, has been restored and extended by developer Enterprise Retirement Living to host a restaurant, beauty salon, gym, bar, lounge and library. Some apartments are in this building, but most – including 28 being added this year – are in the grounds.

Chester city: easily accessible from Boughton Hall

In more rural Oxfordshire, the final phase of Richmond Villages’ 36-acre Letcombe Regis scheme is taking shape. The village employs 150 people and the next 34 homes, now under construction, are tailored to customers’ needs.

“We listened carefully to our residents, who told us they wanted a large living space and up to two bedrooms, especially important if they’re downsizing,” says Richmond’s managing director Paddy Brice.

As its name suggests, Urban Renaissance Villages – another retirement developer – specialises in schemes that provide quality homes for older owners while also improving the wider environment of the locations in which they are based. Its Durrants Village of two- and three-bedroom homes is on a 30-acre site at Faygate, West Sussex, and replaced a dilapidated saw mill complex. In its place is a clubhouse with a pool, gym, library, medical centre and restaurant.

Meanwhile, Churchill Retirement Living specialises in building communities for the over-55s, with security as a key priority. The firm’s newest schemes are on sale this year in Bournemouth, Sutton Coldfield and Hindhead in Surrey, and all feature a 24- hour Careline emergency monitoring link, a camera entry system which can be accessed from the television, and an intruder alarm in every apartment. There is also a lodge manager on site at each development to help with problems and deliveries – or just on hand for a friendly chat.

For retirees who believe life outside the home is as important as life inside, Beechcroft’s Frenchlands Gate development of two- three- and four-bedroom homes at East Horsley, Surrey, has extensive landscaping. “We take as much care designing our gardens as designing our properties and invest in creating gardens that look mature from a very early stage,” says Beechcroft sales director Angela South. “Each development offers something special – a lake or pond, wildflower meadow, water feature or formal garden.”

Prime locations, refurbished period gems, large grounds, state-of-the-art security, stunning landscapes – so retirement communities all look the same do they? No, they do not.