A new model for later living: Appleby Blue in Southwark

Appleby Blue internal courtyard

Source: Philip Vile

This modern take on the traditional almshouse is intended to reduce loneliness and isolation by bringing community groups into the building and promoting interaction between residents. Could it tempt older people out of their family homes?

The question of how to house an ageing population so that older people have healthy, happy and fulfilling lives and at the same time free up family-sized homes is one of the most pressing of our times. The later living community sector is growing, but more is needed and the schemes that are built are mostly in remote locations or expensive and on the edge of towns. Many people are reluctant to leave the family home because the alternatives do not appeal, or it means leaving the area where they have spent most of their lives. 

This is a question with which the United St Saviour’s Charity has been grappling, arguably for the past 500  years. With a history stretching back to 1541, part of the charity’s remit is to provide sheltered housing for older people with limited means who live in Southwark. 

It owns two, very different almshouses. The grade II* listed Hopton Almshouse, next to Tate Modern, dates from 1752 and features a traditional, U-shaped plan with small single-storey homes arranged around a garden facing the street. The second scheme, St Saviour’s Court is an off-the-shelf, four-storey McCarthy Stone development dating from 2006 in Purley with 53 one and two-bedroom flats arranged on either side of central corridors.


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