Published: 00:02, 21 August 2017
A £15 million ‘dementia village’ like no other facility in the UK could be built within Canterbury’s largest ever housing project.
Plans are being drawn up for the ambitious development, which would sit on 15 acres of land to the south of the city and cater for 250 sufferers of the degenerative disease.
Based on a new concept of care in The Netherlands, it would form part of Corinthian Land’s 4,000-home Mountfield Park scheme.
Simon Wright, the developer’s chief executive, is in talks with bosses at care home provider Avante, who joined him on a trip to see the groundbreaking Dutch facility Hogeweyk in Amsterdam.
“It was a real eye-opener,” he said. “What we saw was the world leader in this type of care, where people in varying stages of the illness can continue to live full lives.
“You would have thought you were in a Costa Coffee because it was so relaxed.
“People were walking about and I when I asked “where are the residents with dementia?’, I was told they were all around us.
“Two people from Avante came with us and one sat there crying, saying ‘why can’t we offer this to people back in the UK’? Our village would be the first of its kind in the country.”
The Canterbury project would include apartments, houses and a care centre for those in the more advanced stages of the disease.
It would also have its own cinema, convenience store and cafe, as well as recreational areas like a village square and gardens.
Residents would buy or rent their accommodation and pay for their level of care.
Mr Wright says the project would meet a growing need for specialised care.
“Avante have the expertise to run it, but can’t afford to build it, so we will,” he said.
“We are looking at a variety of accommodation, including houses where up to six people who share similar interests could live with the support of a carer. It would also help prevent couples affected by the disease from being split up.
“It’s a really hard market but I personally think it is something we have to crack for the future because it is increasingly needed.
“Already we have an architect looking at it and drawing up some plans, but because of its scale, the scheme will require a separate planning application within the Mountfield Park development.”
Work on Mountfield Park could begin next month if a High Court judge decides the scheme does not need to be scrutinised further.
Construction of the dementia village would start in the scheme’s early stages, at a time when experts are forecasting a dementia care crisis.
The Alzheimer’s Society says one in 14 people over 65 has dementia, with the number of people with the illness expected to rise by up to 35% by 2025.
Only this week medical journal The Lancet warned the government that an extra 71,000 general elderly care home places will be needed by 2025 in England.