May 19, 2024

Woodchester Valley Village: this is what can be achieved when a retirement site manages itself

At Woodchester Valley Village, near Stroud, the residents simply took over the retirement site when the commercial operator went bust

At Woodchester Valley Village, near Stroud, the residents simply took over the retirement site when the commercial operator went bust. Daily Mail. Click on picture for full story

The Daily Mail today runs an article about Woodchester Valley Village: thought to be the only mutually owned retirement village in the country.

The village, four miles outside Stroud, has been in other publications such as the BBC and the Guardian, here


Daily Mail. Click on picture for full story

The residents here have been wonderfully resourceful ever since the company that owned the site, Bluchie Limited, went bust in 2011.

(Its is now in administration and its directors are given as: Anthony Selwyn Tabatznik, 67; Andrew Stafford Deitsch, 58; Anthony John Burgess, 51; Hudson Findlay Cooper, 67.)

Over two and half years, the residents have taken over the site, raising £2 million to buy the freehold off the administrators.

Seventy of the 75 home owners on site took part in the initiative, which was led by Peter Wilson, 77, a retired business manager, and Betty Young, a former government spokesman.

‘In the middle of the night I’d wake up and wonder if what we were doing was really possible,” the Mail quotes Mr Wilson as saying.

“But in the morning it would be all hands on deck. There was a real team spirit. I hope everyone who comes here can see the benefits of the way we run this community.

“It’s not a project to take on lightly, but I really believe we could be the model for the future.”

WoodchesterVillage3This will be music to the likes of Bob Bessell, the founder of Retirement Security Limited in Leamington: a retirement housebuilder who acknowledges that things are deeply awry with retirement housing.

Since the residents began marketing the village in March last year, they have filled 18 of the 38 empty properties. Previously, it was typical for just eight to sell in a year.

Property prices in the village start at £130,000 for a one-bedroom flat and go up to £500,000 for a four-bedroom, detached house. Service charges vary according to the size of your home, “but is typically around £5,500”, which is unlikely for the flats.

“By my estimate,” writes journalist Victoria Bischoff. “When the village is fully occupied, the mutual will take in around £400,000 in service charges. They’ll also make a profit from other services they provide: a home-delivered meal is £2 plus the cost of the dish; a handyman call-out is £15 an hour.

“All residents get one hour of cleaning a week included in their service charge. There is also a gardener.”

Woodchester Valley Village employs 16 employees staff, including a chef. Care staff are on call 24 hours a day.

“All profit is put into reducing the service charge or making improvements to the village. That’s why some areas seem so plush.”

Woodchester Valley Village is a world away from the standard Tchenguiz freeholder / Peverel managed site.

There is no denying that it is an upmarket site, with informed and educated people living on site.

Both qualities help, but neither is a guarantee that people will act sensibly and collectively, without petty and pointless squabbles: the ruin so many right to manage initiatives.

It is a massive achievement to have pulled this off, and the residents of Woodchester Valley Village must be warmly congratulated on what they have achieved.

Full article in the daily Mail here

Or the Guardian here


  1. So good to see a good news story on how buying a retirement property can be a ‘forever’ home, as intended. I can not see why all retirement developments can not be run and operated like this apart from when greedy, manipulating freeholders get their grubby hands on the coffers…
    Perhaps the team that manage it can set up a consultancy service and encourage other sites to do the same? That would be nice..

    • Karen,

      I worked on this Retirement Development near Stroud in 2006/07 when I was Building Control Surveyor.

      It is a beautiful development, I was aware of the problems they were having in 2006/08 and had met some of the residents.

      The RTM only works when the residents and family provide support for those attempting to remove poor Managing Agents as we have in PEVEREL/FIRSTPORT.

      The change of name has finally landed from the post, also when I phoned the Peverel number it rang for 90 seconds before being answered?

      This now has been the norm over the past two weeks as the Area Manager Secretaries, no longer answer the phone, and the office has and is going through a major change.

      • Admin,
        This was part of an email from a Peverel Senior Officer today. I am not sure who it was who sent it as it was from Customer Relations.

        I do not have any relations that I know at Peverel Management Services Ltd who trade as Peverel Retirement who has changed their name to First or LastPort but are still the Price Fixing Company that allowed Cirrus Communications Services Ltd who became CirrusUK and then Appello, have I left anything out?

        From Peverel Group Customer Relations?

        Unless expressly stated otherwise, this communication is from or relates to whichever of the following companies is identified in the body of the email above:

        Peverel Services Limited trading as Knight Square, Peverel Group and Peverel Property Management and also in transition to trade as FirstPort. Registered in England No.7925019.

        * FirstPort Retirement Property Services Limited
        * (formerly Peverel Management Services Limited)
        * which is transitioning to its new brand and is therefore currently trading both as
        * FirstPort Retirement Property Services and
        * Peverel Retirement. Registered in England No. 1614866.

        FirstPort Property Services Scotland Limited (formerly Peverel Scotland Limited) which is transitioning to its new brand and is therefore currently trading both as FirstPort Property Services Scotland and Peverel Scotland. Registered in England No. 3829468. Property Factors Registration Number PF000095.

        * OM Property Management Limited, trading as:
        * OM Property Management and Marlborough House Management –
        * both currently in transition to trade as FirstPort Property Services;
        * Consort Property Management and Insero Letting Professionals – currently in transition to trade as * * FirstPort Bespoke Property Services and
        * FirstPort Lettings Services respectively. Registered in England No. 2061041.

        * Pembertons Residential Limited –
        * currently trading as Pembertons Property Management and Stonedale Property Management –
        * and soon to be changing to the FirstPort brand. Registered in England No. 1623496.

  2. Michael Epstein says

    Whilst I am very pleased for the residents at Woodchester Valley Village, that they have had to take on so much, rather defeats the concept of Retirement Development living as championed by Mcarthy&Stone, Churchill and Peverel (Firstport) Retirement.
    For the more “standard” retirement developments,at a minimum a recognised residents association with the absolute right to appoint a managing agent on a two year cycle is needed.

  3. Trevor Bradley says

    A wonderful outcome and well done to the residents at Woodchester Valley.
    However I would support MEs comments, it does defeat the concept of “retirement” living.
    To me the usual should, at a minimum, a recognised residents association who appoint the mananging agent etc, or, the best, which is what I am involved in, the residents own the freehold but also employ a managing agent for all day to day running. Obviously the MA is responsible to the directors of the freehold company that the residents formed when the bought the freehold.
    No way would I want to operate our complex without a managing agent, I worked long enough hours before I “retired”!!

  4. M.E. is absolutely right, what’s the point of entering into a retirement development situation and running it yourself, when the initial concept is to devolve the minutiae of day to day property management so one can concentrate on ones interests and hobbies, unless of course they are property management, in which case why move in the first place.

    There are so many “What happens IF” scenario conundrums with this idea of resident ownership and management, that it is all bound to end in tears I’m afraid.

    Love the idea of limited term Managing Agents though, lets face it our Whole Country is run on a five year management cycle so why not our retirement developments.

  5. Kevin,

    You are correct regarding the point of entering into a retirement development. I am 68 and an ex professional Person who hates cheats and liars who feed of the elderly.

    At Ashbrook Court, as new residents move in I note how little they know about what they have purchased.

    Most stated they bought the flat and own it, I inform them that they have purchased a lease for the remaining years from 1986, they then realise that they do not own the flat and are upset with me for explaining what, the Estate Agent and Solicitor should have made clear?

    • Michael Hollands says

      You have hit on something very important. Something that could be aired more on this website.
      I went to view a for sale retirement property three days ago, it was just the job but I discovered it had only 82 years left on its 99 year lease. This meant it had reached the point at which the leaseholder should be considering an extension. So I made some investigations
      The estate agent was surprised at my concern with 82 years left.
      The manager at the complex confirmed that on none of the 45 apartments had an extension be applied for.
      I spoke to several of the residents, who appeared to have not a clue what I was talking about.
      They said they would be long dead in 82 years.
      On the LEASE website there is a calculator for determining the cost of extending and this came to £5000/7000 plus own and landlords costs.
      I spoke to a solicitor who deals with extensions, he told me these costs would be around another £3000. And as one has to own the property for two years prior to application it would be more when only 80 years remained. He said in his experience leaseholders are unaware of these costs.
      I think the majority of leaseholders would be completely unaware of this type of situation and somehow the system must come up with a method to keep them informed.
      I have contacted the DCLG who are at present investigating lease extension costs.
      They like most other organisations say that the elderly leaseholders can get information from their solicitors and numerous websites. This just does not work in practise.
      I have written to ARMA to see if they can include anything in their ARMA Q, that is to encourage their member companies to keep residents fully informed on this subject. Unfortunately as with most of my correspondence to ARMA it gets ignored.
      Can anyone come up with a solution to help the current crop of elderly residents?

      • Lesley Newnham says

        I have a friend who recently purchased a retirement property which when new only 8yrs ago was selling at around £280,000. She purchased for £130.000!! I went with her to the solicitor to make sure she asked all the right questions but still would rather she hadn’t purchased it.

        My observations sent to the CMA study were just as you suggest CLEAR information MUST be presented at the Estate Agent stage well before decisions to buy are made. Unfortunately if this were to happen very few leasehold properties would be sold leading to the next point, no more retirement properties should be built unless they are freehold!

        I do not live in a retirement development but downsized at the age of 50. I too hate cheats and liars and it was certainly NOT explained to us with only 63yrs remaining then how important it was to extend only that you would not get a mortgage below 50yrs. Now instead of paying a few thousand pounds at the time we would have to pay upwards of £20,000 which we don’t have.

        After seeing the recent article and T.V coverage of Woodchester Valley Village this has to be a better way. Not perhaps that residents physically manage themselves but are in control of HOW it is managed. This is surely only going back to basics where houses or flats are OWNED as they would be in any street but better as they are not reliant on cash strapped councils to provide services but do it themselves!! Running an RTM Co is similar except we do not own the freehold but our properties are certainly in a much better condition after 4yrs and nearer the market value than they ever were under an ARMA ( no doubt accepted as ARMA-Q ) managing agent!!

        • Lesley,

          Here in Church the new McCarthy & Stone Development that was built in 203/4 had 1 bed flats selling as new for up to £138,000 and 2 bed selling for up to £180,000.

          Recently 1 bed flat sold for £75,000, 2 other two bed flats are up for sale for £85,000?

          The 2 bed flats in the same development are on sale from £129,000.

          The Housing Market is buoyant so why only McCarthy & Stone Developments?

      • Frightening stuff Michael,
        but are you aware that there is some info on this site – Go to “What Can You Do?” tab and select “Lease Extensions”

        Lots of stuff there, in case you have seen it before do you consider it insufficient ?

        You’ve certainly opened my eyes, is there more we need to know.

        Thanks Kevin

        • Kevin,

          If Peverel Retirement or any Peverel Company is either your Freeholder, Landlord or Managing Agent then there is a lot more you need to be aware of.

          Ask admin for my contact details and I will attempt to help.

      • To all Concerned

        Done a bit of research on line re. Lease extensions and came up with this address.

        A quite consice explanation I thought and a good place to start from if you need deeper information.