On Friday (11 August 2023), Old Bexley and Sidcup MP Louie French visited Birchgrove’s 74-unit Queensgate Apartments in Sidcup, which was opened in 2019 by the late James Brokenshire MP.
Containing one-, two- and three-bedroom retirement Build to Rent apartments for over 65s, Queensgate Apartments was one of the first mid-market assisted living rental communities and has helped create a new model of retirement housing in the UK.
During his tour of the scheme, MP Louie French interacted with and had coffee with the residents – many of whom have lived locally in Sidcup or Bexley their whole life – before meeting residents taking part in Tai Chi in the landscaped garden and visiting the greenhouse to see the homegrown fruit and vegetables.
He was also shown the scheme’s amenities, including the library and health and wellness suite before residents Ken Allison and Hazel Evans showed him their apartments and shared their experience of living at Queensgate Apartments.
Regular events and hobby groups assist in creating a community feeling at Birchgrove’s scheme, whilst the onsite shuttle service to the local high street and shops adds to the residential experience.
All residents are also entitled to one hour of domestic support per week, such as cleaning.
“It was a pleasure to welcome Louie French to Queensgate Apartments, especially at a time when demand for high-quality rental homes for over-65s is really starting to surge. Our mission is to make retirement living more accessible and flexible, and we’re proud to have our local MP onboard.”Honor Barratt, Chief Executive, Birchgrove
Since the opening of Queensgate Apartment, Birchgrove has established two further communities in Surrey (Ewell and Woking), housing over 170 residents.
Construction of two further communities in Banstead and Leatherhead are currently underway, while residences in a sixth community in Godalming, Surrey, Pepperpot House are now available to reserve.
The involvement that Birchgrove has in the retirement housing market comes from the acceleration of demand from over-65s for high-quality rental homes.
Recent research from Hamptons predicts that the number of households aged over-65 renting their home will double to more than one million in the next decade, up from 400,000 today.
Whilst the rental in retirement model is well established in the US (90% of retiree housing in the US is rented), in the UK it was largely unheard of for elderly people in the mid-market sector to rent their retirement home, until Birchgrove helped introduce the model to the UK in 2017.