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Residential care homes: a property agent’s point of view

Aug 18, 2017

Residential care homes: a property agent’s point of view

The need for more care home places in the coming decade was headline news recently.Steven Mudd of Barker Storey Matthews, Bury St Edmunds, considers this growing sector from a commercial property point of view.

The residential care home sector is a niche slice of the commercial property market but, demographically, all is in place for it to become a more significant seam of business for property agents in the coming decade and an influence on local commercial property markets, such as those in Suffolk.

A recent study for The Lancet study identified the need for more than 71,000 additional care places in England by 2025 – that’s on top of the current provision of 220,000 places. 

Barker Storey Matthews has been under instruction in the past year on a number of properties suitable for use, or continuity of use, as residential care homes.

These have been mainly instructions as part of local authority planned property disposal programmes as social care migrates from the public remit to that of private healthcare providers.

Properties suitable for residential care home use are, in the main, mostly in town centres or in villages which have good local facilities and amenities. Edge of villages and towns work well only if there is good access to the road network. 

Barker Storey Matthews has recently sold a former care home in the village of Ixworth to a private healthcare provider. Ixworth retains many village amenities and road access between Bury St Edmunds and Diss is good.

It is highly likely that a suitable property will have been used for some institutional or communal purpose. However, this is not exclusive, as former country manor-style residences can suit the purposes of the healthcare provider purchaser.

The property’s footprint is usually about 1 acre. We are currently underway with marketing an instruction on a former local authority care home in Ipswich, close to the town centre, on Sidegate Lane which is set on 0.76 acres.

In the coming years, the size of the desired site is likely to increase as the reason most former care homes are coming to market is that they do not provide enough beds under current care standards and, therefore, need to be improved and refurbished to ensure compliance.

Some former care homes attract the interest of private residential developers who see the attraction of the site’s location. The Bury St Edmunds office of Barker Storey Matthews recently sold a former care home site in Stowmarket for private residential development.  With a C2 residential use class, former care home properties have established a general residential principle for the site and this is a material consideration for local planning authorities.

Generally, the residential care home sector has not attracted much conventional property investment interest. Purchasers are, more often than not, private providers already operational in the care and health sectors. 

That is not to say the view of residential care homes as a property investment asset won’t change given the prevailing policy climate and the financial attraction of the demographic profile of a population living longer due to medical advances but, in doing so, is generating more residential care requirements.

For more information about commercial property in Bury St Edmunds available for the residential care home sector, please contact Steven Mudd, 01284 702655, sm@bsm.uk.com.

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