JANE SLADE talks to the CEO of PegasusLife about his big plans to shake up the retirement property industry
Howard Phillips is on a crusade to improve the stock of homes for the over 55s. And he is moving fast. PegasusLife, the specialist retirement house-building company he heads up has bought 28 sites in the past year and is set to buy the same number in the next 12 months. Armed with an investment of £500m from Oaktree Capital Management, PegasusLife launched its new vision just over a year ago and now has two retirement schemes approaching completion and others under construction.
They include beach-front Atlantic Rise in Bude, Cornwall which comprises 28 homes and is already 70 per cent sold off plan, and the Malt Yard in Woodbridge, which offers 29 homes built on the site of an old Malt Yard in Suffolk. Planning consent has also been secured at other sites in Tetbury, Sutton Coldfield and Poole with others hoping to go through in Cheltenham, Seaford, Sevenoaks and Dawlish.
“I’m looking to transform the retirement market, making it more transparent and easy,” declares Phillips, formerly CEO of McCarthy & Stone, the largest private builder of retirement flats and homes in the country.
“There’s still a perception that retirement property is not desirable,” he adds. “Our mission is to transform that perception and provide great quality housing that anyone would want to live in, designed by award-winning architects rather than build cookie-cutter style developments.”
This means providing private external space, flexible use of internal space, lots of storage and car parking. “Things that have been lacking,” he argues. “We will be able to provide support and care if needed. We will also offer cafés, bars, restaurants, and spa/wellness facilities. We want to broaden the appeal of retirement housing because we have a new generation; people in their 70s who were in their 20s in the 1960s. Their outlook on life is very different.”
PegasusLife also plans to strip away the mystique of leases, charges and exit fees. “Homes will be sold on 1,000-year leases; there will be no exit fees and our not-for-profit service charges will be transparent; items will be budgeted for and owners can see what has been spent where,” adds Phillips.
Schemes designed for those aged 55 or 60 will vary in size. To date the smallest is in Bournemouth with 20 units and the largest will be in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, where permission is being sought for 112, one, two and three-bedroom apartments.
Managers will be called ‘hosts’ and facilities at retirement villages will be open to the public, so residents can integrate with the local community.
Starting prices are £199,950 (plus £204 a month service charges) for a one-bed home in Bude rising to £2million for a 1,000 sq-foot home at PegasusLife’s Westminster scheme, should planning permission go through. The developer also hopes to build 36 apartments in London’s Horseferry Road and two more sites of 50 units in Hampstead and Islington.
“When I was at McCarthy & Stone, the key question I told staff involved with developments to ask themselves was: ‘Would I be happy for my mum to live here?’” says Phillips. His 84-year-old mum still lives in her old home in Cheshire. “That’s because there is no PegasusLife scheme for her to move to,” argues Phillips, “but in 18 months hopefully she will be able to move to Wilmslow.” That’s if he can persuade her of course!
Homes at Malt Yard, Woodbridge cost from £239,950 (£213 per month service charge) for a one-bed apartment and £349,950 (£303 per month service charge) for a two-bed. All properties are sold on 1,000 year leases. For more details visit www.pegasuslife.co.uk