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How boomers are changing the landscape for small NZ towns

Currently under construction, The Oaks on Neville will sit right in the middle of Warkworth, a small but fast-growing town 64 kilometres north of Auckland. With around 5000 permanent residents, Warkworth also acts as a catchment for a number of wider farming communities.

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Pic: Chris and Kevin Murphy at the Oaks on Neville construction site

The Oaks though is not just another sub-division, it will be the first apartment-style retirement village of its kind in regional New Zealand – and serve as a vital economic-boost blueprint for the local community

"The injection of money into Warkworth businesses is quite phenomenal.” - Murphy

Real Living Group, one of New Zealand’s largest privately owned retirement village operators, is behind the project.  Director Kevin Murphy says The Oaks was designed to meet the changing expectation of what retirement living offers.

“This is the first retirement village that's actually been built into a little township,” he says. “Everything that central Warkworth offers they'll have at their fingertips.”

With an estimated village resident population of 350 people when completed, The Oaks will have 180 apartments and around 30 rest home or hospital rooms, providing a welcome boost to the local economy.

“The beauty of this village is they are going to have people living centrally and shopping on a daily basis, so the injection of money into Warkworth businesses is quite phenomenal,” Murphy says.

For a transcript of this video, click here

Boom

Funding the development was unique as the site and location were not what one would typically see in the sector, ANZ Commercial & Agri General Manager Penny Ford says - including the renovation of a historic building.

Layered over these challenges, the demographic profile and apartment style living meant careful assessment was needed to understand the demand for this type of village.

“We used our sector knowledge and looked at the retirement trends we were seeing in city locations,” Ford says.

With construction well underway Real Living Group and ANZ have worked with the - local -contractor to use local trades,  employing  a local electrician, steel manufacturer, scaffolding company, excavation and concrete supplier.

“We are keenly involved in our communities, so we were delighted to work together with the owner to help local business people get involved,” Ford says.

“In smaller communities the dollar goes a lot further and the benefit of an investment of this kind into regional New Zealand is a great growth story.”

Numbers

According to CRBE New Zealand contains almost 36,000 retirement village units, home to an estimated 39,000 elderly people. 

That number continues to grow with around 50 units per week.  In the 40 weeks from December 2016 to October 2017, 1,924 units were added and the capital value of the sector also rose by some $820 million to $13.46 billion.

Recent research by Forsyth Barr shows growth in the over-75-year-old age group has started to accelerate and is expected to expand by around 15,000 per annum over the ten years to 2027.

Retirement village living is increasingly becoming a lifestyle choice, with 13.5 per cent of over 75 year olds in retirement villages in 2017 compared with 9.8 per cent in 2008.

The Oaks shows one way the sector is evolving to keep up with changing expectation of what a retirement village should offer.

“There is a lot of demand for increased retirement villages across New Zealand,” Ford says. “With the increased demand, and improved wellbeing, people want more options to choose from.” 

“I think what you are seeing now is a real variety in developments, and that’s what is so exciting about The Oaks on Neville.”

Murphy agrees.

“It really differentiates and gives people a choice away from the norm of retirement villages,” he says.

 “We intend to create an environment where once they move in they can stay, this will become their community, and they’ll form friendships.”

“If their health needs change they can stay part of that community.”

Briar McCormack is NZ editor at bluenotes

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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