BISHOPS WALTHAM - WALMSLEY PLACE
Overnight Visit Friday 16/03/18
My husband and I are in our 60s and have just sold our house. We are living in a rented flat while we decide what to do next. We are considering several options, including buying a flat in a block designed with retired people in mind, so when I saw the invitation to "road test" a McCarthy & Stone development, I thought it would be a good idea.
McC&S offer 3 levels of support in their developments, and we wanted the most hands-off arrangement (known as "Lifestyle"). On the list of developments to visit, only 2 were described this way - one in Yorkshire and one in Hampshire, so we chose the Hampshire one as it was nearer.
The block is about 18 months old and within a few minutes walk of the village, bus stop, pub etc. It looked new and well-cared for, with gardens and ample parking.
The inside of the building was warm and welcoming on such a freezing cold day, and furnished to a high standard. The communal areas, all spacious, cosy and inviting, were lovely, especially the central atrium area which was furnished with sofas, tables and TV.
The flat itself was furnished to "show home" standards and was stunning. The most impressive thing was the sense of space - nothing felt pokey. The kitchen was small (but adequate) and equipped with a small dishwasher as well as the usual oven, hob, microwave etc. The living room and bedrooms were all of generous size and there were two bathrooms (or shower rooms to be more accurate - none of the flats have baths). Both bedrooms had ample storage - a built in wardrobe in bedroom 2 and a large walk-in closet for the main bedroom. There was also a room to house a washer-dryer and laundry parapheralia.
The heating is underfloor and there was a separate stylish wall-mounted fire (not needed on our visit even though the weather outside was very cold). The flat was lovely and warm and one of the residents told us that his bills were less than £40 a month. I believe the building has a high energy-efficiency rating so I can believe it.
The person who greeted us was Lisa and she also mentioned Malcolm (not on duty while we were there). Lisa did everything possible to make our stay enjoyable, including introducing us to a number of residents. We really liked Lisa because she was not at all pushy and allowed the apartment to speak for itself. She knew we would be impressed and we were.
The location was around 2 hours from where we currently live so it was a bit of journey, but not particularly difficult and the place itself was easy to find. Bishops Waltham is a very historic village and the local architecture reflects that. There seemed to be plenty of buses (to Winchester, Southampton, as well as nearer towns and villages).
We did feel at home in the flat, mainly because it was warm and cosy and had appropriately-sized rooms. We could picture ourselves living there. We couldn't hear any noise from other residents or from outside.
The overall experience was very positive. We went out to explore the village on the Friday evening and had a meal in one local pub and visited the other two for a drink. We had quite a chat with the landlord of one and he introduced us to a few locals who told us more about the village. Everyone we met was really friendly.
We were really impressed with Walmsley Place and with Bishops Waltham, but unfortunately the location is all wrong for us as it's not near enough to family and friends and also we both still need to go to London regularly and it wouldn't be that easy from there. We knew this before we visited, but our visit was really to explore the type of development rather than Bishops Waltham itself.
When we spoke to the residents, several of them had done a lot of research (in one case, 2 years' worth of research!) and they assured us that Walmsley Place was "the best". Some residents cited the apartments and the social side, while others cited external factors like the larger-than-usual outside space and proximity to the village. What came over loud and clear was that none of the people we met had any regrets about moving there.
We would definitely consider this type of development for our next move, so we will keep looking. Ideally we would like to live in London, but there don't seem to be any McC&S developments in the capital.
We have no qualms in recommending Walmsley Place to anyone considering downsizing or looking for their final home.
Torn - retirement panic
Forgiveness - is it too late?
A big hole - no GC