Work begins this month on The ExtraCare Charitable Trust’s fifth retirement village in Birmingham. A site celebration will mark the start of construction of the £35 million village in Longbridge, which is a major milestone for the charity and the city.
In 2008, ExtraCare pledged to build five Birmingham villages in partnership with the City Council. The start of work in Longbridge marks the final stage in the £200m development programme, the largest project of its kind in the UK.
The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Shafique Shah, Councillor John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing and Peter Hay, Strategic Director, Adults and Communities, will be among the 100 guests at a celebration on February 20th, which will involve the burial of a time capsule on site. [For event details see Editor’s Notes below].
Councillor John Cotton said: “The village in Longbridge is part of our wider pledge to transform retirement housing in Birmingham by developing five villages which address people’s lifestyle wishes as well as their health and care needs. These affordable villages are providing over 1,100 apartment homes within inspirational communities that attract interest and involvement from their local neighbourhoods. We are showing Birmingham and the UK that older people can increasingly look forward to their retirement setting as a place of opportunity and enjoyment.”
The special celebration will include guests from the Longbridge community and residents from ExtraCare’s other Birmingham villages who attended previous construction ceremonies. All will be asked to bring gifts from their communities for the Longbridge capsule.
Hundreds of older people have already moved into the three ExtraCare villages that have opened in Birmingham. The first village was New Oscott which opened in 2010 and developed with Birmingham-based housing association Midland Heart. Pannel Croft in Newtown opened in 2012 – this multi-cultural village was developed as part of the City Council’s multi-million pound regeneration programme in Newtown and most of the apartments are available for affordable rent. At Hagley Road Village, which opened a year later, most of the 240 apartments are owned. The £35m Bournville Gardens is due to open later this year on the site of the former Bournville College. The village which has 168 purchase and shared ownership and 44 rental apartments is being developed as a partnership between The ExtraCare Charitable Trust and Bournville Village Trust.
For many village residents new homes have meant new friends and a new lease of life. The charity gives older people the chance to enjoy a healthier, active and independent lifestyle in communities that are a modern alternative to the traditional care home. Residents live in one or two bedroomed apartments in villages where facilities include libraries, gyms, shops and coffee bars. Activities include everything from IT classes to wheelchair aerobics and reminiscence groups. The villages offer health and well-being support, and care is provided where it is needed.
The villages have also become social hubs. Facilities are available to the local community and relationships have been developed with local schools.
D Day veteran Tony Martin, aged 96, who lives at Hagley Road Village, said: ‘We didn’t come here to retire we came here to live and that’s what we are doing.’
The demand is so high for accommodation at the Birmingham villages that there are waiting lists for those that have opened. At Hagley Road Village there is a waiting list of more than 100 households and the Bournville Gardens is 80 per cent reserved 10 months ahead of completion.
The homes are affordable thanks to a combination of Homes and Communities Agency and NHS grants, the council partnership and a range of options to either purchase or rent. At Hagley road Village options included £94,975 for a 50 per cent purchase of a one bedroom home or £18 per week for residents renting a one bedroom home and claiming full housing and council tax benefit.
The villages have also freed up much needed family housing. There have been more than 100 council properties released back into the community as a result of their opening and hundreds of privately owned homes have become available for younger families, most with three bedrooms or more.
The Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing has been carrying out research with ExtraCare. Initial findings shows that visits to GPS have reduced and there is evidence that living in ExtraCare reduces NHS costs.
Nick Abbey, Chief Executive of The ExtraCare Charitable Trust, said: ‘We are delighted that Birmingham City Council’s bold vision for older people has come to fruition; five Villages are now confirmed with three complete, one in Bournville opening this year and the fifth in Longbridge under construction. We thank the City Council, our housing partners and the many supporters across this City who have tirelessly ensured this ambitious vision becomes reality. We also thank the hundreds of local older people, volunteers, families and friends who have shaped these Villages and ensured they are at the heart of Birmingham’s community life.’
Mike Murray, Senior Development Surveyor at St. Modwen said: ‘Our aim at Longbridge is to develop a truly all-inclusive community with new homes, jobs, shops and leisure uses. ExtraCare Charitable Trust’s retirement villages have a great reputation for providing high quality homes for the over 55s and will be a welcome addition to the Longbridge community.
‘We are 10 years in to our masterplan for Longbridge. New residents of the retirement village will benefit from the new Austin Park, a new Town Centre anchored by Sainsbury’s and a new Marks & Spencer opening later this year, which, along with improved infrastructure, creates a vibrancy that is attracting increasing numbers of new businesses, workers and residents.’