McAleer & Rushe has been appointed by Retirement Villages Group (RVG) as the construction partner for its latest integrated retirement community in Royal Tunbridge Wells.

The new development, which brings to life the former ABC cinema site, will create 167 one and two bedroom later living apartments arranged around a central courtyard with nine lower ground floor retail units. Part of RVG’s Thrive Living collection of more connected, urban communities for an active and sociable older generation, there will be genuine connection between the new development and the surrounding town centre with street facing retail units, a publicly accessible courtyard and integrated thoroughfares linking different parts of the town.

Situated on a prominent corner of Church Road and Mount Pleasant Road, the development will transform a brownfield site that has lain derelict for over two decades. Construction works are set to begin on the development this month and once complete will provide a high-quality landscaping scheme with flexible spaces across multiple levels including podium landscaped terraces.

Drawing inspiration from surrounding buildings, the architecture will reflect that of the art deco cinema that formerly occupied the site, and the mid-century town hall which faces the building. In a sector leading initiative, RVG has committed to developing the site as a whole-life net zero carbon project, meaning the new community will be net zero carbon across both its development and operational lifespan. The development design will implement an all-electric heating and hot water model through roof top ASHP systems.

Floor to ceiling windows will maximise sunlight throughout the 1.5-acre development and the apartments will be complemented by communal amenity spaces including a restaurant, private dining rooms, and wellness facilities.

With an extremely complex site topography, including a 9-metre differential in levels and positioned above a Network Rail Tunnel, the design and construction methodology will carefully address each of the unique constraints and challenges.

This contract signifies an entrance into the later living sector for McAleer & Rushe, which the business has strategically targeted to diversify their offering as a leading Design & Build Contractor.

Commenting Shane McCullagh, Director at McAleer & Rushe said:

“McAleer & Rushe have a long and established history of delivering homes, rooted in our origins within social housing in Northern Ireland and our expansion into the later living sector reflects a natural evolution of our capability. With decades of experience in both hotel and residential projects, including build to rent, co living, and affordable housing, we are well positioned with an enviable skillset and proven track record to enhance buildability for our industry partners.

“We see the later living sector increasing in the market, to meet the needs of today’s society for modern retirement housing that centres on community and social connection. We look forward to working closely with RVG to bring their vision to life, to create and integrate an enhanced retirement community with the wider urban town setting, benefiting all in the transformation of this brownfield site.”

Will Bax, Chief Executive Officer at Retirement Villages Group, said:

“We are thrilled to bring Thrive Living to Tunbridge Wells and unlock a brownfield site that has sat derelict in the heart of the town for over 20 years.

“Thrive Living is a step-change in the way we should think about later life. We intend to challenge the stereotypes of vulnerability, loneliness and dependency and replace them with a new narrative. Modern retirement living needs to reflect the attitudes of a new generation of elders, who want to live with purpose and embrace the opportunities of connected and sociable living, creating their own active, urban community in an existing town setting.

“It’s a pleasure to partner with McAleer & Rushe; we are all excited about the opportunity to revive this space and build a vital, open community in the heart of this great town.”