Retirement villages roll out a welcome for grandchildren
Weekends are a busy time for Marilyn McGee. It is when her 13 grandchildren – who are aged between nine and 23 – come to visit, eager to use the facilities at her retirement village.
Grace, 12, and Oliver, 14, live close by and visit regularly. “They love it here,” says Marilyn, 82, who bought a twobedroom apartment at Wadswick Green near Bath in Wiltshire three years ago. “They swim in the pool and play in the grounds,” she says. “They used to choose burgers and pizzas from the children’s menu in the restaurant, but now they are older they have developed a taste for steak – which costs me a fortune!”
One of the reasons for moving to Wadswick Green, which will have 248 one, two and three-bedroom apartments when completed, was so that Marilyn, a widow, could be near her daughter Fleur, as well as Grace and Oliver. “I also moved for the wonderful facilities here, which are not only great for me but also for them,” she adds.
“You see lots of children around at the weekends. It is lovely to see young faces mingled with the old ones, but nice to know the young ones go home afterwards.”
Retirement housebuilders have discovered that the way to entice buyers to their villages and developments is to make them appealing to their grandchildren.
“If a retirement community offers a swimming pool, cinema, gardens and games facilities then grandchildren will be more likely to visit, which makes them more attractive to grand- parents,” says Neil MacKichan of Retiremove.co.uk, the retirement property website. And the key to encouraging grandchildren is to make staying with granny and grandad feel just like a holiday, adds Richard Williams, chief executive of Wadswick Green.
“Our chlorine-free, saltwater pool is a big hit with the grandchildren,” he says. “And our events programme is designed for families. We have run an Olympic picnic and games on the village green. Our annual craft market offers children’s entertainment, candyfloss and face painting.”
Marilyn is hoping there will be a cinema and a snooker room in the next phase of the development to attract her older grandchildren. One-bedroom apartments start from £265,000 (wadswickgreen.co.uk; 0800 092 9030).
That’s already the case in Lifecare Residences’ swanky London retirement village, Battersea Place. There, the visiting children can make requests for films at the on-site cinema, as well
Battersea Place, left and above right
Pauline and Ian Simms and their grandchildren, main; at the Fleur-de-Lis development, below