“There is pent-up demand for retirement apartments after the severe constraints of the last year when people have been struggling to sell their existing homes,” said Mr Day. “The long-awaited green shoots are already appearing, albeit in patches, and we need to be ready for sustained growth. I believe it is not too far away.”
McCarthy & Stone is looking three years ahead to confront the planning hurdles it sometimes faces when building on sensitive sites in town centres. “We have a tremendously high success rate at planning – around 95 per cent – but local councils can make life difficult in the early stages where they do not understand private sheltered housing. “Also retirement schemes, often having 40 or more apartments with ancilliary services in one building, cannot be released to the market until construction is finished, unlike conventional developments which can be built and sold piecemeal,” said Mr Day. “We need to plan well ahead. “We’ve got off to a good start with three site acquisitions already under our belt and a number of other sites in the pipeline with contract terms agreed.”
The company, more used to building over 2,000 units annually, this week moved on site at Ferndown, Dorset, for the first build start of 2009. It has opened developments this year in Newquay, Cleveden, Street, Worle, Watford, Newbury, Long Eaton, Moseley, Retford, Biggleswade, Rushden, Banbury (Retirement Living), Banbury (Assisted Living), Little Sutton, Peebles and Renfrew. Refinancing of McCarthy & Stone in the wake of the banking crisis was completed in April, “giving us a wholly encouraging new start”, said Mr Day. “Throughout the downturn we have maintained a good relationship with land sellers and agents. Now we will need them more than ever.”
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