South Coast law firm Lester Aldridge has successfully advised national retirement housing developer McCarthy Stone on the purchase of Wimborne Market in Dorset, following the grant of planning permission earlier in 2022.

Development has started at the site, where McCarthy Stone is delivering a £41 million housing scheme consisting of 67 high-quality one-and two-bedroom extra care apartments, 32 extra care bungalows and two-storey chalets, and nine open market houses.

The scheme will be McCarthy Stone’s first urban retirement village in the UK. It will feature a well-being hub, circular fitness route, vegetable garden, village green, bistro and dining areas, all paired with the support of 24-hour flexible care. The developer wants to create a ready-made supportive and vibrant community for its residents to access whilst retaining their independence and involvement in the wider local area.

Dorset County Council predicts the number of older people in the county will rise by 60% by 2033. Following the recent levelling-up White Paper, a new government task force was launched on the issue of older people’s housing, designed to look at ways to provide better choice, quality and security of accommodation for older people. It has been estimated that some 3 million pensioners would like to downsize but cannot do so because of the lack of suitable housing, with only some 7,000 homes for the elderly being built each year.

Ed Garcia, divisional land director (Southern) for McCarthy Stone, said: “We are delighted to be delivering our first urban retirement village to the historic market town of Wimborne Minster. We had a great team of professionals working with us, managed by senior land manager James Day, in particular Lester Aldridge who represented us so brilliantly, Re-Format Architects for creating such an amazing scheme and the in-house development team at McCarthy Stone. We are grateful to the George family for agreeing to sell the site to us and allowing us the opportunity to deliver our concept scheme so close to our Head Office in Bournemouth.”

Lester Aldridge’s team was led by Mark Benham, Head of Real Estate Group, who said: “There is a huge demand for all types of housing in east Dorset, including specialist housing for older people. McCarthy Stone’s scheme will help to increase the housing choices available for the local community and will free up family homes for the next generation. Lester Aldridge has advised McCarthy Stone on hundreds of its schemes, and it was a pleasure to advise the company on the acquisition of such a historic site.”