Oh, they like to live beside the seaside...........residents who have moved into newly-built retirement apartments in the centre of Hunstanton believe they have found their own piece of paradise.
The multi-million pound McCarthy & Stone complex of 31 one and two-bedroom apartments have proved so popular that they have sold like hot cakes with (at the time of writing) only seven remaining unsold.
In fact, people were so keen to snap up one of the high-specification homes, which come complete with a luxury fourth-floor residents’ communal lounge and adjoining spacious decked terrace area with sea views, that 50 per cent of the apartments were bought off-plan.
A retirement home (for the over 55s) is seen as the perfect solution for people who no longer want the responsibility of looking after a house or bungalow with a large garden.
They would prefer to spend their twilight years in a worry-free environment.
And at Hamon Court, facing out towards St Edmund’s Terrace and the grassy, leafy Spinney in the town centre, seems to fit that bill perfectly.
But, of course, such a luxury lifestyle comes at a price with a two-bedroom apartment costing up to £300,000 plus a weekly maintenance charge, currently set at £82. The one-bedroom apartments cost just short of £200,000 with he maintenance fee of around £56 a week.
There are no garages at Hamon Court but a parking space underneath the complex costs a one-off £7,000. These have now all been sold.
The residents who have moved into Hamon Court all say they have made the right decision.
They love the fact the block is located in the centre of town close to all amenities.
The building, with its attractive carrstone and natural stone frontage, nestles very well between the Princess Theatre at one end and the Town Library and Bus Station at the other.
Residents can wake up in the morning, go for a stroll along the sea-front, before returning to enjoy their breakfast on the fourth-floor patio with its views out over the sea.
As one resident commented: “Provided that you can afford it and the weekly maintenance charge, what is there not to like?”
As another resident pointed out the maintenance figure includes water and sewerage charges and pays for the window cleaning of the whole complex and also covers the salary of the part-time House Manager Alison Williams.
The first occupants of Hamon Court have been living in their smart apartments, complete with under-floor heating and security video entry system, for only a couple of months and already a sense of community is developing.
They are quickly getting to know their neighbours at the weekly Wednesday morning coffee mornings held in the residents’ lounge.
As Ken Garner, who worked in London as a steeplejack before moving to live in retirement in the Fens at Parson Drove, near Wisbech, explained Hamon Court offers the best of both worlds for its residents.
“You can remain in your own apartment if you wish but you can also go up to the residents’ lounge if you feel the need for some company,” said Mr Garner.
His wife, Margaret, said: “It’s time to give ourselves the freedom and time to do all the things we ant to do. Our flat at Hamon Court is our little piece of paradise”.
The couple had previously been frequent visitors to Hunstanton and had been watching progress on the McCarthy & Stone development during its construction programme.
“We have always loved the Hunstanton area so when we saw that the apartments were going up in the town centre it really did seemto be the right time, right place.”
The couple agree that it is wonderful having every amenity, from supermarkets, the theatre, the library and the bus station, on their doorstep.
“We are really looking forward to getting to know our new neighbours at Hamon Court and to take in the beautiful scenery as we enjoy strolls through he local area - it’s time for us,” they said.
Another resident, Jill Wicks, aged 80, sold her three-bedroom bungalow in Snettisham and bought a one-bedroom apartment which she loves.
“It is really lovely living at Hamon Court and I would thoroughly recommend it to people who no longer want the responsibilities of looking after a home and a garden,” she said.
Pat McNicol, aged 84, has moved to Hunstanton from another seaside town, Ramsgate in Kent. Her son lives in Northampton and has visited his mother several times in her new home.
“He is happy that I am living somewhere that is safe and secure,” she said.
Moving from the south coast to West Norfolk was a major change for Mrs McNicol and her decision was not one she took lightly.
“I had been married for 58 years and after my husband died I was funding it difficult to cope,” she said.
She found the hardest part was having to get rid of much of her furniture to downsize to her new apartment.
“Everyone here has been really lovely and I am getting more used to Hunstanton and have started attending keep fit classes,” said Mrs McNicol.
She has a third-floor two-bedroom apartment facing the sea and hopes that some of her friends from Ramsgate will come and visit her during the summer.
Although Alison Williams, from Heacham, is the House Manager at Hamon Court she stresses that there is no care service offered to residents. If a resident becomes unwell or develops a disability they have to arrange their own care, just as they would in their own private home.
There are future plans by McCarthy & Stone to provide the town with an Assisted Living complex, which would include a restaurant for residents, on the redundant Swain’s complex in the town.
Alison, a former administration manager for the NHS, looks after the day-to-day running of Hamon Court and residents can call on her for help with any problems they may have with their apartments.
Alison is available during the week, usually between 9am and 2pm, to deal with any problems and queries the residents may have and she aims to help wherever she can.
“They are a lovely bunch of people and there is already a real community feeling among them, particularly when they gather in the residents’ lounge for their weekly coffee morning,” she said.
McCarthy & Stone, who have built retirement apartments for more than 40 years and have won a variety of awards for the quality of their developmemts, have adapted their designs to meet buyers’ requirements.
In earlier developments, the complexes included a ground floor communal laundry room. However, a survey of residents revealed that many did not like this idea and would have preferred to have a washing machine in their own apartments.
So now at Hamon Court a washer/drier is provided in each flat along with a complete fitted kitchen.
The company is very proud of its Hunstanton scheme and according to the company’s senior marketing executive, Becky Sweet, it has been a great success.
She said : “There are very few similar properties like our Hamon Court complex available in the surrounding area.
The development gives our homeowners the independence and freedom to enjoy their retirement with a community on site, a house manager on hand, smaller properties to maintain and closeness to local amenities.
She added : “In the wider context, by buying an apartment, this can in turn free-up larger properties and helps first/second time buyers in the local area. Our Hamon Court development has proved very popular.”
For more information about the Hamon Court complex call 0800 201 4106 or visit mccarthyandstone.co.uk/hamoncourt