Developers are increasingly drawing up plans for luxury retirement schemes in Solihull - which the majority of residents simply cannot afford, it is claimed.

The borough's ageing population means that there is growing demand for accommodation which meets the needs of the elderly.

But there are fears that the facilities favoured by some applicants are out of the price range of most local people and places will instead be filled largely by those moving in from other areas.

Cllr Ken Meeson, cabinet member for children, education and skills, said there were problems posed by schemes which did not meet local need.

Artist's impression of a Catherine de Barnes retirement village, which was refused planning permission last year.
Artist's impression of the Catherine de Barnes retirement village.

"I have got one that's coming forward in my ward [Dorridge & Hockley Heath] which if you could afford it would be great," he said.

"They're talking about having a swimming pool on site, a cinema, a gym, but I doubt that it's going to be affordable for most of the people in Solihull, who want to downsize and want to go into that sort of accommodation.

"I don't know what the answer to that is and there's no easy answer."

Last year, a separate retirement scheme, in Hampton Lane, Catherine de Barnes, was thrown out by councillors amid concerns that "only a very few privileged people" would be able to afford it.

The issue was raised as part of a wider discussion at this week's health and wellbeing board about Solihull's housing strategy and work being done to provide the homes that are so desperately needed.

The Mayor of Solihull, Cllr Flo Nash, opens the SCH development at Saxon Court, in Chelmsley Wood, last year.
The Mayor of Solihull, Cllr Flo Nash, opens the SCH development at Saxon Court, in Chelmsley Wood, last year.

Fiona Hughes, chief executive of Solihull Community Housing (SCH), said: "There are, amongst the challenges, some real successes.

"We recently opened Saxon Court [in Chelmsley Wood] which is affordable social housing for our older residents and it's almost full already."

 

Aside from this £7 million complex, which was officially opened just before Christmas, on the former home of Coleshill Heath School, an extra care facility is also being built on the old Powergen site, in Shirley - with 40 per cent affordable homes.

In response to officers' comments, Cllr Meeson said: "You're doing very well, but it's how do we persuade the private sector to co-operate with our strategy?"

He had argued that the council had stressed the importance of more affordable properties, but that developers continued to put an emphasis on maximising profits - which often means the plans brought forward are at odds with local priorities.