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09 March 2010 00:00
Do you dream of retiring to a perfect rural retreat or a bustling seaside town? To help you make the right move we asked other Yours readers to lend a hand and help us compile a list of the best places to live in the UK in retirement.
To build an accurate picture we asked readers to rate their home town or city according to the criteria that we know are important to you. We were inundated with replies describing your attitudes to everything from confidence in your local hospital and policing, to community spirit and the cleanliness of the town centre. The results are surprising - so read on to find out if your town made it into the top 10.
10 - Lincoln, Lincolnshire A good range of housing to suit every budget was one of the major plus points for Lincolnshire's capital town. The glorious cathedral can be seen for miles around. With majestic medieval architecture, Lincoln is undoubtedly rooted in the past. "Lincoln is a beautiful city with a community feel," says Darren Grice, leader of the City of Lincoln Council. "We have a strong focus on health and leisure, and our Active Over-50s Project Officer visits community venues across the city to introduce new and exciting activities. The council also runs professionally led Health Walks, which are very popular with older people."
9 - Bristol, AvonBristol has plenty to boast about from Brunel's iconic suspension bridge to the Clifton Downs on its doorstep. The city has undergone extensive regeneration in recent years and its newest shopping centre, Cabot Circus, was opened in 2008. "Bristol has won a string of awards recognising it as one of the best places to live and work in the UK, not just for older people but for all," says Councillor Barbara Janke of Bristol City Council. "Older people are well catered for and can access sheltered housing offering fi rst-class supported independent living, while our care services are helping more elderly than ever to enjoy life in their own homes for as long as possible."
8 – Doncaster, South YorkshireWith an average Council Tax of £856 per year and house prices well below the national average* it's not surprising that Doncaster is a popular destination for retirees. "Doncaster has lots to offer," says Patricia Schofi eld, of Doncaster Council. "We have some truly wonderful local beauty spots and places of interest such as Cusworth Hall and Brodsworth Hall. People aged over 60 who live in Doncaster can take advantage of discounts on many attractions with our Borough Treasures Scheme, which has recently been relaunched. We also think it is important that older people have a say about services and the area they live in, so we're setting up a local `parliament' consisting of elected members from the over-60s community."
7 – Norwich, NorfolkA magnificent Norman cathedral dominates the historic city of Norwich. As Norfolk's county town, it offers a rare blend of classic architecture and modern shopping in the city centre and the unspoilt landscape of the Norfolk Broads nearby. Scoring highly for the quality of shopping, Norwich boasts one of the widest ranges of independent retailers in the area. Readers also showed confidence in the local authority, which is no surprise to the local council. "We are really aware of the important role older people have in the city," says Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council. "Last year we set up the Norwich Older People's Forum to make sure the views and needs of this group are heard."
6 - Worthing, West Sussex Situated close to the beautiful South Downs, with five miles of award-winning coastline, this seaside town scored top marks for scenery and beautiful walks. With a gentle, traditional lifestyle, Worthing offers a range of outdoor activities such as golf, bird watching and hiking. It also scored particularly highly for the quality of public transport and local health care provision. And with a lower than average crime rate, our respondents said it felt like a safe place to live.
5 - Southampton, Hampshire The county's largest city, just a stone's throw from the New Forest, is rated highly for local beauty spots and green spaces, but a feeling of security was its biggest plus point with residents. More than one-third of households in Southampton are retired. "We believe it is really important to keep our pensioners informed," says Royston Smith of Southampton City Council. "We're in the process of creating a magazine for older residents to let them know about activities that they can get involved with. The Council also runs the over-50s festival in the city each year and has a dedicated inclusion team who work really hard to make sure our older residents get a voice in decisions made in the city."
4 - Sheffield, South Yorkshire With a population of more than 500,000, Sheffield is the biggest city in our Top 10. Good public transport and excellent bin collections both scored highly. Sheffield is actually the greenest city in England, with four trees for every person, and the Peak District is on its doorstep. It also has a lively cultural scene and fantastic sports facilities. Add in cheap housing and low council tax and Sheffield, it appears, is a wonderful place to spend your retirement. "We have some fantastic attractions," says Gail Smith from Sheffield City Council. "Despite being the UK's fourth largest city, the people of Sheffield are warm and friendly. They have such a close-knit sense of community that the town feels like a village. We also have a network of Expert Elders, who use their experience and views to help us improve services and quality of life for older people in the city."
3 – Eastbourne, East SussexA predictable winner in the scenic category of our survey, Eastbourne remains an unspoilt Victorian resort with miles of glorious beaches. Readers rated highly the social scene for retired people - not surprisingly, as the over-60s make up almost 30 per cent of the town's population. "In Eastbourne it's easy to enjoy retired life," says Susan Morris of Eastbourne Borough Council. "We have some great clubs and a range of activities and cultural experiences which all create a lively, interesting and fun place to live and unwind after working hard for many years. The Council also has the `Because You Deserve It' initiative, which offers grants and loans as well as individually tailored advice to ensure its older residents' homes are safe and well maintained. Grants are also available for insulation and solar panels." Our survey shows that people also feel reasonably safe in Eastbourne following an initiative undertaken by the local police and the Eastbourne Crime Reduction Partnership. Burglary has been reduced by 66 per cent since 2003/04, theft from vehicles is down by 61 per cent, and robbery is down 67 per cent.
2 - Chorley, Lancs Just a few points behind Tamworth comes Chorley, steeped in history and surrounded by beautiful countryside. Bustling markets and historic buildings make it the ideal place to live, according to locals. With some of the cleanest streets in Lancashire, the town has won awards for its floral displays as well as its public parks. Crime in Chorley is below the national average**, with domestic burglary at 1.8 per 1,000 population. In a survey, more than 80 per cent of residents said there is a good community spirit. "The borough's known for its Chorley Smile," says Peter Goldsworthy of Chorley Council, "a civic pride campaign where locals pledge to make a difference in their community." The Council also run an Active Generation scheme, offering over-50s the chance to improve fitness and have fun with activities such as tea dances, t'ai chi and walking.
1 - Tamworth, Staffordshire Residents consistently rated this Midlands town highly across all the categories, making it our overall winner. Good health care was a defi nite plus, which isn't surprising as the Quality Care Commission rates the overall quality of the local hospital as `good', while NHS Choices suggest an average of 86 per cent of residents surveyed are happy with the service of their GP practice. A regular market and frequent bin collections also scored well. With historic Tamworth Castle in the centre of the city (see above), and scenic riverside walks, residents aren't short of things to do. House prices (£142,433 on average) and council tax (£1,045 on average) are both below the national average*, making Tamworth a good choice for the budget conscious. As Tamworth is the smallest town on our shortlist, the council is able to provide a Supported Housing Service, which is specifically designed to help older residents live more independently in their homes. Asked why they thought they had scored so highly in our poll, a spokesperson for Tamworth City Council said: "We're particularly proud of our recent work with the police, fire service, youth service and many others as part of a Community Safety Partnership to tackle anti-social behaviour and reduce the fear of crime. We also operate Homelink - our own 24-hour community alarm service - which is designed to reassure residents that help is at hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."
In association with McCarthy & Stone, Britain's leading retirement builder. Call 0800 919132 or visit mccarthyandstone.co.uk
McCarthy & Stone is the UK market leader of private purpose built retirement housing which is designed to promote an active and independent lifestyle for the over 60s. With around 150 current selling developments across England, Scotland and Wales, including many in the top ten towns in our survey, McCarthy & Stone has a property to meet your needs.
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