By 2040, nearly one in seven Britons will be over 75 according to a recent report by the Resolution Foundation. The report also estimates that a third of people born today can expect to live to be 100. This increased life expectancy is one of the great triumphs of modern society, but with this triumph comes many challenges, not least an ever-growing need for quality, well-located housing suitable for senior living.
At Urban Edge Architecture we believe that senior living needs to be provided within our towns and cities and we are working on schemes with developers and operators that actively encourage social connection through the provision of shared and social spaces. We want to create developments where young and old can live side by side, both benefiting from the social, cultural and economic opportunities of a multigenerational community.
Ideas around urban senior living have gained some traction in recent years and Urban Edge has seen its influence growing in the sector, with our dedicated experts invited to share their in-depth knowledge within a number influential journals and at high-profile events.
Earlier this year, the Parliamentary Review editorial committee identified Urban Edge Architecture as an outstanding leader in its field, and Director Russell Gay was invited by former Conservative Communities Secretary Lord Pickles to contribute to the Review’s 2019 edition. One of the topics Russell took the opportunity to discuss was the need for senior living provision in urban areas, calling on policy makers to help facilitate the creation of mixed-use, multigenerational developments that can foster a diverse and sustainable urban and suburban economy.
Writing in the Review – an esteemed annual journal that shares best practice amongst policy makers and business leaders in an effort to raise standards – Russell said: “As architects, we see at first hand that high-quality, innovative design is crucial to attract people 65 years and over.
“Older people are increasingly demanding the opportunity to engage in the social and economic life of the wider community. They want to live in urban and suburban areas and continue to lead an independent lifestyle, maintain and build new friendships.
“With the extremely high land values in cities, the creation of mixed-use developments not only answers the demands of modern living but also creates better funding opportunities. We believe mixed-use schemes are key to the creation of a diverse and sustainable urban and suburban economy, providing activity, employment opportunities and vibrant public spaces.”
Our contribution to the Parliamentary Review follows a number of recent high-profile speaking engagements for Urban Edge’s Senior Associate Director, Sonia Parol. Drawing on her wealth of experience working on both sides of the globe, including multi-residential, specialist housing and mixed-use projects in the urban living sector, Sonia has been a much sought-after expert for events such as Inside Housing’s Ageing In Place Summit and the Property Week Retirement Living Conference.
Sonia passionately believes that there is an urgent need to transform the UK housing market to ensure that senior citizens are treated equally, able to make the same meaningful choices as everyone else about where and how they live. To do this, she says, we need to make it a mandatory requirement to design and deliver all new homes to be accessible and adaptable to people’s needs over time.
Speaking ahead of her appearance at this year’s Ageing In Place Summit, Sonia said: “The UK government is pledging to build 300,000 homes a year until the mid 2020s to tackle the housing crisis. That’s why it’s so important to get the design of our housing correct now. If we don’t, we are locking in age-restricted housing for decades and poorly serving the needs of future generations of senior citizens who want to remain and play an active part in the communities in which they have lived all their lives.”