Lack of suitable properties preventing older Londoners downsizing

04 April 2016

In the run-up to the Mayoral and GLA elections, polling undertaken by YouGov on behalf of McCarthy & Stone suggests that more than four in ten (43%) of all older Londoners (those over 55) believe there is a lack of appropriate properties in the capital that they can downsize to. This is despite a third of all older Londoners (32%) either currently considering downsizing or planning to consider it in the future.[1]

Clive Fenton, CEO at McCarthy & Stone, the UK’s leading retirement housebuilder, commented:

These survey results reflect what we have suspected for some time. The growing and changing housing requirements for older Londoners is one of the most important challenges facing the capital and it is vital that new housing supply meets the needs of our ageing population.

 “Supporting first time buyers and Generation Rent is commendable, but there’s a bigger prize on offer by helping older people downsize – these figures show that those in later life are effectively Generation Stuck. Housing and planning policy should not just be about Starter Homes and first time buyers – millions of older people want to downsize to more suitable housing but there is currently little incentive or choice for them to move.  Helping those who do want to downsize could also set off a property chain reaction that eventually helps millions of younger people to join the housing ladder through the family-sized homes that are vacated.”

This research coincides with the launch of McCarthy & Stone’s ‘A London manifesto for housing in later life’, which has been sent to the Mayoral and GLA candidates ahead of the election in May, as well as to all London boroughs. The manifesto contains specific policy recommendations aimed to directly boost the supply of retirement housing in the capital, and these include;

  • Develop stronger London-wide and local planning policies across the 32 boroughs to support the delivery of retirement housing across all tenures
  • Provide retirement housing with equivalent status to affordable housing to facilitate greater provision and reflect the greater difficulties associated with meeting the distinct needs of this specialist market. This policy would encourage new entrants into the sector while also recognising the need to manage demographic change, the socio-economic benefits of this form of accommodation, and its ability to unlock the wider housing chain
  • Require local authorities to identify suitable sites for retirement accommodation within Local Plans
  • Require local authorities to monitor the number of private, as well as public, sheltered and very sheltered homes being delivered in their local area
  • Retain the requirement in the London Plan that all new homes in London are built to Lifetime Homes standards 


It is anticipated that older people will be the fastest growing demographic in London and the number of over 65s is expected to rise from 980,000 to 1.2 million over the next 10 years; an increase of 22%. The 2015 London Plan suggests that the need for retirement housing in London is acute with 3,600 – 4,200 new specialist units required per annum, with 2,620 of these being required for private sale.  It adds that the housing needs of older Londoners as one of the most important emerging planning issues for the capital.  

McCarthy & Stone is the UK’s leading retirement housebuilder and is seeking to address this challenge by investing £2.5 billion over four years in land and build for new housing, and c. £300m of this will be in London. McCarthy & Stone launched a new regional office for North London in 2014, in addition to its existing South East office, which covers South London, and currently has c. 500 units of new housing across 19 sites in the capital.

To read the McCarthy & Stone London manifesto, please click here. 


For more information contact:
Aaron Young


Telephone: 0203 697 7636


Notes to editors:

McCarthy & Stone is the UK’s leading retirement housebuilder, with a c.70% share of the owner-occupied market[2]. The Group buys land and then builds, sells and manages high-quality retirement developments. It has sold over 50,000 homes across more than 1,000 developments since 1977 and currently has around 160 developments under construction or for sale in the UK.  

McCarthy & Stone’s Retirement Living and Assisted Living developments offer one and two bedroom apartments across the country in a wide variety of locations, from city centres to rural villages and coastal locations.  Retirement Living developments offer the independence of retaining home ownership while living in an apartment specifically for the over-60s, as well as greater peace of mind and companionship. Assisted Living developments for the over-70s offer all of this, plus a helping hand through flexible care and support packages that make life that little bit easier. 

In 2015, McCarthy & Stone launched its Ortus Homes offering. Exclusively for over-55s, these bespoke properties are intelligently designed for downsizing to enhance a homeowner’s leisure years.  The first Ortus development, Scarlet Oak in Solihull, was crowned ‘Best Retirement Scheme’ in the HBF’s Housebuilder Awards in November 2015.

McCarthy & Stone’s commitment to quality and customer service continues to be recognised by homeowners. For the eleventh year running, the Company has been awarded the full five stars for customer satisfaction in an independent survey conducted by the Home Builders Federation (HBF).

For further information, visit


There is a growing demand for specialist retirement housing, with the number of people aged over 85 in the UK expected to more than double between 2014 and 2033 from 1.5 million to 3.5 million, and the number of over 65 year olds expected to increase by more than 50% from 11.4 million to 17.2 million[3].  According to recent research, 1 in 4 over 60s are interested in retirement living[4] (Demos, 2013), yet only c.128, 000 units of specialist retirement housing for homeowners have been built[5]

[1] In March 2016 YouGov undertook polling on behalf of McCarthy & Stone. The total sample size was 1018 London adults with 362 of those being over 55. The fieldwork was carried out over 10 – 14th March and was undertaken online.

[2] Based on 3,453 registrations of cross tenure properties specifically designed for the elderly with the NHBC during calendar year 2015, of which 2,672 were registered by McCarthy and Stone.

[3] Population projections by the Office for National Statistics (2012 based).

[4] Demos- Top of the Ladder (2013)

[5] Age UK - Buying retirement housing fact sheet (April 2014). Properties built relate to England and Wales as at April 2014