One-on-one interview: Nick Watkins of Renaissance Retirement

Posted 31 December 2014

Marc Da Silva’s final housebuilding interview of 2014 sees him putting the questions Nick Watkins, development director at specialist housing provider, Renaissance Retirement.

What regions do you cover? We currently cover the counties of Devon, Oxfordshire, Dorset, Hampshire,  West Sussex,  Berkshire, Surrey, Wiltshire, Avon and Somerset however if a particularly exciting  land opportunity came up a little further afield we would consider it.

Why should people over the age of 60 consider living in an age-exclusive home? For the majority of people it tends to be a need based move whereby there is a trigger in an individual or couples’ life that makes them consider downsizing and moving into a retirement property. A good example is the burden of maintaining a large family home and garden, or perhaps the children are concerned about the wellbeing or security of a parent living alone. Downsizing certainly does not mean compromising on the quality you would expect from your former home. On the contrary the specification within our developments is second to none within the retirement market place.

Retirement properties grant owners all of the freedom they would expect, but with the added benefits of a secure environment with the ability to lock up and leave. This is particularly beneficial if you would like to travel in retirement, or visit friends and family abroad – you can be safe in the knowledge that your property will be looked after and secure whilst away.

One of the most rewarding aspects of moving into a Renaissance scheme is the social aspect available to owners. There are many like-minded people living within our developments that offers owners the opportunity, if they wish, to join in at the weekly coffee mornings and other social gatherings. 

What is unique about Renaissance apartments and what are the main benefits? Renaissance Retirement builds high-quality retirement apartments designed for independent living within a luxurious, comfortable setting with a little help on hand if it is needed.

We pride ourselves on the attention to detail of our buildings both inside and out. Our internal specification is very high; from granite work tops with ovolo mouldings in the kitchens to digitally temperature-controlled showers, to name but a few. Our developments are pleasing on the eye through good design and by utilising high-quality materials and also through incorporating features such as glazed links to break up the appearance of the buildings.

All of our developments are meticulously maintained to the same standard as a four-star hotel, which means owners can enjoy their retirement in comfort. Each development offers a sumptuous owners’ lounge which provides the perfect setting for owners to relax.

To assist new owners downsizing and moving in, we offer our own SmoothMove service at no extra cost. This is a bespoke service designed to ease the pressures and stress of moving home.

New owners opting to use the fully inclusive service benefit from the expertise of their own SmoothMove consultant, who can offer advice and assistance with downsizing, the planning and setting up of their new apartment and take care of the often time-consuming administration of arranging new utility services. SmoothMove also includes a complimentary removal service to transport their existing possessions to their new home.   

We have a dedicated concierge at our developments who is there to help and assist with tasks such as simply changing light bulbs or lending a hand carrying the shopping to your front door.

We also offer our owners one year’s free membership to our exclusive Fleur De Lis Privilege Club that entitles members to a variety of complimentary meals at one of the town’s best  restaurants as well as access to one of the top hotel spas in the area.  Furthermore our concierge will transport owners to and from these destinations in our chauffer driven seven-seat vehicles. However, all of our developments are located within walking distance of a town centre, which is great for people who no longer have a car.

What types of properties is your firm developing? We develop one-, two- and three-bedroom retirement apartments; many have balconies and some with mezzanines, there are well-maintained gardens, spacious shared areas and a concierge service.

What projects is Renaissance working on and what’s in the development pipeline? We are currently actively selling retirement apartments in Paignton in Devon, Abingdon in Oxfordshire and Christchurch in Dorset. We have recently obtained a further four planning consents where construction has or is imminently due to start, including Hartley Wintney and Romsey in Hampshire, Haywards Heath in West Sussex and Wareham in Dorset. We also have numerous sites that are coming through the planning system in Sandhurst and Crowthorne in Berkshire, Dorking and Hindhead in Surrey, Torquay in Devon and Marlborough in Wiltshire. There are also further new sites that we are in the process of acquiring for future development throughout the South.

How much does a new apartment by Renaissance typically cost to buy? This is obviously dictated by the location but as a guide £250,000 to 350,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and £350,000 to £500,000 for a two- or three- bedroom apartment.

What is Renaissance’s USP? We only acquire sites in the most affluent towns across the south of England.  Our build quality and internal specification is second to none within the retirement marketplace. Furthermore our bespoke and complimentary SmoothMove downsizing service is completely unique and incredibly popular with all our purchasers.

We were also selected to build the first retirement development at HRH Prince of Wales’ Poundbury development in Dorchester, which was very well received and is synonymous with a quality build.

Which of the developments Renaissance is currently developing do you think stands the best chance of winning a WhatHouse? Award? All of our developments could be worthy winners, but I would say that!  It is likely that we will enter our Christchurch, Wareham and Paignton sites in the Awards next year.

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