Retirement village saved by residents in £2 million buyout
WHEN retired residents in Nailsworth found their homes were under threat there was only one option - to club together and buy out the village.
The group of around 50 people with an average age of 85 have now raised almost £2 million to save Woodchester Valley Village after its commercial owner fell into administration.
And this week they expect to sign the deal for the buyout which will make it the first mutually-owned retirement village in Britain - run by and for the people who live there.
When owners Bluchie Ltd went into administration in 2011 the residents decided it was time to take control of their homes and lives.
With grit and perseverance, plus determined fund raising, they are due to buy the freehold from the administrators.
Leading the fight is residents’ association chairman Peter Wilson and vice-chairman Betty Young.
"Nobody has ever done this before, which is why the legal procedure has taken such a long time," said Mr Wilson, 77.
"But now there is a feeling of relief and security that the village won't be bought and sold.
"As a group we immediately indicated that we were interested in buying the freehold and taking control of it ourselves.
"We got together and with tremendous support from families raised the money.
"The families have been the key to this, not just financially but through their expertise."
Formerly known as Crystal Fountain Village, at its peak the complex had about 100 residents living in 73 properties set in 25 acres of countryside, adjoining Woodchester Park.
However, when the on-site care home closed in 2008 the population dropped to 45.
Potential new buyers have since been put off by the insecurity and uncertainty, leaving around half of the properties unoccupied.
Mrs Young, 73, who has lived in the village with her husband for nine years, said: "Some people are nervous about coming here because they see it as the beginning of the end but we want people to come and get involved with the village and continue having an active social life in the community.
"It is a tranquil, sheltered place and people feel safe here."
The village provides cleaning staff, domiciliary care, a restaurant and laundry service.
There are guest speakers and film evenings and there is a village mini-bus for shopping trips and visits to theatres, cinemas and historic gardens.
Ann Dickinson, 77, who has lived in the village for seven years, said: “We were all very worried about what was going to happen, but it has brought everyone together.
“The future is safe now and we can just relax and enjoy this place and the way of life."
Now, the residents' association is planning its next project - a refurbishment of the communal areas led by London interior designer Mary Gannon, whose grandmother owns a property in the village.
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