Company appointed for phase one of scheme, delivering 80 apartments and assisted living accommodation

Willmott Dixon has won a net-zero carbon project that will see it collaborate with Inspired Villages and Legal & General Capital to construct a multi-million pound retirement village in Caddington, Bedfordshire, worth a GVA of £120m.

The scheme – called Millfield Green - sees the construction of 200 apartments that will help tackle a major issue laid out in the South Bedfordshire Local Plan, which identified a need for 9,050 new dwellings for people over 55 years of age.

Willmott Dixon has been appointed on phase one, which includes 80 apartments at the centre of the sustainable village complex and one assisted living block that comprises six one- and two-bed apartments. The project will be part of Millfield Green’s five-year development programme that starts this month and runs across four phases.

The company is behind a number of similar retirement villages and its scope here will see it develop leisure and fitness facilities, including a bar, restaurant and entertainment suite and ancillary community space at the village’s centre. It will also include a swimming pool and sauna, gym, hairdresser, yoga deck, spa, bar and café, library, craft room, bike and buggy stores with charging points and an exercise studio.

The scheme will be Willmott Dixon, Inspired Villages and Legal & General Capital’s first net-zero retirement project.

Michelle Cotterill, director at Willmott Dixon, said:

“This project is creating a new, state-of-the-art complex to facilitate comfort and independence for retirees, and we’re also really looking forward to working towards the construction of our first net zero retirement project and moving one step closer to meeting our ambitious sustainability targets for 2030.”

As part of the contractor’s ‘Now or Never; our decisive decade’ strategy, the company has pledged that its own operations will be zero carbon in ten years and is aiming for its supply chain partners to be net zero carbon in operation by 2040, ten years ahead of the UK government’s target.

Michelle continued:

“It’s been amazing to work with two businesses that mirror our sustainable ethos, and we’re looking forward to implementing these eco-friendly measures into more of our projects as we continue to expand our residential portfolio and fight for a more sustainable future.”

The site will benefit from the installation of ground source heat pumps by Legal & General, through their investment in Kensa Group, to generate renewable energy, alongside on site photovoltaics, improved building fabric and insulation, and mechanical heat vent recovery units to make it as energy efficient as possible.

Electric vehicle charging points will also be installed in 10% of parking bays - which will include 121 spaces in its first phase and 214 overall – with infrastructure in place to increase it to 100% once demand grows.

Phil Bayliss, CEO of Later Living at Legal & General Capital, said:

“We have to Build Back Better after Covid-19 and the housebuilding sector provides both jobs and vital economic resilience. Millfield Green is set to create around 1,100 jobs through construction and operation. But as we accelerate building, we have to avoid stoking up a climate crisis which will create another serious emergency. We continue to make terrific progress through our partnership with Inspired Villages as we set out to revolutionise the later living offer in the UK and address the chronic shortfall in supply. Bringing forward the UK’s first net-zero retirement community is another string to this bow, creating savings for residents and clear environmental benefits as we progress towards a carbon-free future.”

To complement this focus on the environment, green spaces have been incorporated throughout the village’s design to enhance its natural setting. An enclosed garden courtyard has been created in the south of the centre, encouraging outdoor activity and giving residents and visitors a private garden space to enjoy.

Jamie Bunce, CEO of Inspired Villages, commented:

“We are delighted to be starting on site on this major new scheme and bringing forward the UK’s first net-zero carbon retirement community. There is a need to provide a greater support to our older people within society and Covid has shown us that ensuring the health and wellbeing of our older people, whilst supporting our NHS and social care services, is paramount. Our retirement community model focuses on holistic wellness, encouraging this in older people by providing suitable, safe, secure and stimulating environments, helping them live good, healthy, independent lives for longer. Environmental considerations are the next stage of this evolution.”

As part of Willmott Dixon’s commitment to leaving a legacy in the local community, the contractor will also be working with local suppliers throughout the development and creating opportunities for businesses in the surrounding area.