In the Spotlight with Jamie Bunce

We caught up with Jamie Bunce, CEO at Inspired Villages and asked him about the advantages of retirement village living and the challenges facing the wider property industry this year.

Related topics:  In The Spotlight
Property Reporter
4th February 2022
Jamie Bunce 123

PR: How did you get into property and what is your current role in the industry?

JB: I started out within the retail sector where I spent a long time regenerating towns and city centres. During that period, I worked on projects that gave me experience across construction and development, before deciding to switch to the retirement living space.

While retail and retirement living may sound like very different sectors, they aren’t worlds apart. At the centre of both is the vision to create spaces people want to spend time in. I’ve applied my learnings to build homes that promote high-quality life for those with advanced living requirements. At Inspired, that means building our villages around our residents, their interactions and the lifestyle they aspire to ensure they can live the best years of their lives with us.

I became a founding member of English Care Village Partnerships in 2010, where through a joint venture with Places for People, I created two retirement villages - Austin Heath and Gifford Lea, that would form the basis of Inspired Villages, when Legal & General acquired them in 2017. There’s a significant shortage of age-appropriate homes for the over 65s and Inspired Villages caters to the demand in the market. I guided the organisation through its sale to Legal & General in 2017 and am now the proud CEO of Inspired Villages.

PR: One of the biggest challenges facing the property industry is reaching its net-zero target by 2050. How is Inspired Villages planning to help to achieve this?

JB: Sustainable living is one of the challenges of our time and I’m incredibly proud of the path Inspired Villages is blazing in the retirement living sector in this area. We have broken ground on the UK’s first two operationally net-zero carbon (regulated energy) retirement villages - Millfield Green in Bedfordshire, and Ampfield Meadows in Hampshire, and plan to deliver many more. We have committed to build all new properties to net zero by 2025.

Sustainability is the cornerstone of our businesses and we believe that building age appropriate homes shouldn’t be to the detriment of future generations.

PR: What are the advantages of living in a retirement village?

JB: Retirement villages provide over 65s with right-sized homes for those that feel their houses are becoming too large for them or where maintenance is a responsibility they want to free themselves of.

We also support the physical and mental wellbeing of residents with hotel-style amenities, wellbeing facilities such as a gym and spa, and by hiring wellbeing navigators, who focus on organising classes and activities for residents. From pool pilates to art classes, there’s always lots going on in our villages to keep residents engaged and active as they age, and it’s the perfect environment for making new friends and combating loneliness.

There is also the peace of mind the safe environments we design and build can offer, with fast assistance available for the unfortunate circumstance of ill health or a fall. Plus there is optional domestic support.

As a result, retirement villages have a hugely positive impact on health. Research shows living in a retirement village reduces GP visits by 46% and planned hospital visits by 31% (Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing ExtraCare Charitable Trust).

PR: What advice would you give someone looking to get into development as a career?

JB: If you care about what you do it will drive your career forward. The built environment sector spans many industries, so explore those sub-sectors that you have a genuine interest in and the rest will take care of itself.

PR: What are your predictions for the property industry in 2022?

JB: Sustainability dominated the conversation in 2021 in the lead-up to and aftermath of COP26. As the industry progresses towards its collective target of reaching net-zero by 2050 and looks for innovations to build back better, how the sector can work together for a greener future will be a key talking and action point.

PR: If you could read one property related headline this year, what would it be?

JB: Retired Living Sector Found to Extend Healthy Independent Living and Create Lasting Connections in Communities

More like this
Latest from Financial Reporter
Latest from Protection Reporter
to our newsletter

Join a community of over 20,000 landlords and property specialists and keep up-to-date with industry news and upcoming events via our newsletter.