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UK’s over-65s demand bungalow renaissance after plummeting build rates

News and community
Posted 08 March 2021
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UK’s over-65s demand bungalow renaissance after plummeting build rates

  • Just 1,833 new bungalows were built in 2020, a fall of 23% compared to 2019 and less than 1% of new homes built
  • This is down 80% from the 9,347 bungalows built in 2000
  • However, 70% of over-65s would consider moving to a bungalow, an increase from 60% in 2019
  • This is equal to 8.4m people, an increase of 1.2m from 2019
  • 71% of over-65s also say there should be more bungalows built for older people (2019: 65%)
  • McCarthy Stone is one of few companies developing new bungalows, and was granted planning consent for a development of 49 bungalows in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire in January


8th March 2021

The number of bungalows being built in the UK has collapsed and is falling every year with just 1,833 bungalows built in 2020, warns McCarthy Stone, the UK’s leading developer and manager of retirement communities. This is equal to less than 1% of the new homes built in 2019/20 .  

In 2000, 9,347 bungalows were built, 80% more than today’s level. The drop is also noticeable in more recent years. In 2018, 2,418 bungalows were built, falling to just 2,384 in 2019 .

However, research by McCarthy Stone has found that demand for one-level living is on the rise: 70% of over-65s would consider moving to a bungalow . This is equal to 8.4m people across the UK and indicates that in recent years, bungalow building rates have actually moved in the opposite direction to demand .

This represents a 10-percentage point increase in demand since 2019  highlighting the ever-growing appeal of low-storey housing in later life. The impact of lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic may have contributed towards older people considering moving to a more suitable property, including bungalows. 

The appetite for bungalows is explained by multiple factors, including the desire to live on one level (57%), the easier maintenance (43%) and being much better suited to older people (39%) than conventional houses. 

 Table I: What do you think you would most like about living in a bungalow? 

Being able to live on one level


They are easier to maintain


They are much better suited to older people


Being able to downsize but maintaining my independence


They provide space for a garden


They are designed and built with older people in mind


Source: McCarthy Stone, Find Out Now 2021

Millions of over-65s also support the building of bungalows designed exclusively for older people: 71% agree that there should be more bungalows built exclusively for this group. This is up from 65% in 2019.

Planning rules to date have limited the viability of bungalows, favouring high-density developments instead. McCarthy Stone would like to see current planning legislation reconsidered to help cater for the increasing market demand for housing designed specifically for older people, including bungalows.

This could be in the form of proactive policies, including the allocation of age-restricted bungalow-only sites in Local Plans and the obligation to provide age-restricted bungalows as part of the housing mix in larger scale developments. 

John Tonkiss, McCarthy Stone CEO, commented:

“Bungalows are increasingly popular among older generations – they are easier to maintain, are built with older people in mind and help maintain independence for longer given their step free access and easy adaptability – yet bungalow building has collapsed in recent years. The impact of lockdown and Covid-19 is likely leading older people to want to consider living in a more suitable property, and bungalows fit into this category.

“The importance of building more suitable housing for older people has been brought to the fore by the coronavirus pandemic and the UK has the opportunity to redefine how best to support our ageing population, including through the provision of better housing. 

“We urge government to consider new planning rules to improve the viability of developing bungalow development, for example, through the allocation of age-restricted bungalows-only sites, allowing more low rise buildings generally, and addressing the viability issues in planning regulations which prevent new bungalow schemes from coming forward.”

McCarthy Stone builds to meet demand for bungalows with latest development

McCarthy Stone has been granted planning consent for a development of 49 bungalows and a communal residents’ pavilion in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire. This follows a development in Olney, Milton Keynes, where construction has just started on 58 dwellings, including 10 bungalows.

With a portfolio of 410 bungalows across 20 sites in total, Woodhall Spa signals McCarthy Stone’s ongoing commitment to addressing the undersupply of bungalows by ramping up building of this type of housing so that it becomes a core part of its portfolio. To date, demand for bungalows at McCarthy Stone developments has been consistently high.  

The latest development will consist of nine one-bedroom, 32 two-bedroom and eight three-bedroom bungalows, set within tranquil green spaces. Within the development there will also be a communal pavilion including a homeowner’s lounge, kitchenette and guest suite. The pavilion will back on to views of woodland to the north, while an existing large oak tree becomes a key feature of the site.

The bungalows are located in Woodhall Spa, a picturesque former spa town and civil parish in Lincolnshire. The development sits close to a range of restaurants and local shops in the town centre providing easy access to amenities for homeowners, as well as green spaces, a bowling green and open-air swimming pool, all at Jubilee Park.


1. MHCLG reported that 243,770 homes were delivered in 2019-20
3. February 2021 research carried out by McCarthy Stone, in conjunction with Find Out Now, surveyed 2,062 over-65s
4. According to ONS figures, cited by Age UK, Later Life in the UK 2019
5. 2019 research carried out by McCarthy Stone, in conjunction with YouGov


For more information please contact: 
Victoria Heslop/ Ben Harries/ James Anderson
[email protected] 
020 7250 1446

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