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Changing Times

The inclusion of the former Seven Gables Rest Home at Totland Bay on the Isle of Wight in our November 2nd auction gives a very stark and dramatic example of how times have changed in terms of our expectations of such facilities.

Not many years ago, large Victorian buildings of this nature were considered to be perfect candidates for use by care providers. The large rooms lent themselves for use as bedrooms, often with space for en-suite cloakrooms in a corner of the room. The locations were usually in pleasant areas with larger plots to provide attractive communal gardens. Often in this region of course, like Seven Gables, these buildings were also close to the sea.

However, modern day requirements and regulations have meant that many such buildings have become unviable economically and while some continue to trade very successfully, the owners of many, like Seven Gables, have not been able to continue.

Regulations and client expectations have changed, pretty much in lock-step, with some of the smaller rooms in these buildings that once were considered adequate, no longer up to expectation, either with potential users or the regulations on minimum room sizes.

Once upon a time an en-suite cloakroom was considered a more than adequate provision, but nowadays a shower-room or wet room is the expectation and providing them in an old Victorian building is often neither practical nor cost effective.

Lifts are another cause of concern and potentially great expense. Even if there is space to install one in a building that was probably built before electric lifts were in common use, it is most unlikely that the space available will be big enough for a lift of sufficient size to allow for the likes of a wheelchair or a patient and nurse/carer at the same time.

Wiring, insulation, windows and on and on goes the list of potential expense and so while it is not impossible to still make care provision work in these older buildings, it comes as perhaps no surprise that in every town and city in recent years there has been an upsurge in the number of new and purpose-built facilities that have been rising from the ground and opening their doors.

This has of course led to a increase in the quality of facilities available and has given the opportunity for the likes of Seven Gables to be re-purposed and take on a new lease of life as apartments, the sites redeveloped or perhaps, in some cases, even returned to their original use as a splendid family home.

Fifteen or twenty years ago buildings like Seven Gables, trading as care homes, were a very common part of our street scene and very few people would have predicted that we would be where we are today. It is worth perhaps reflecting on what changes the next similar period might bring. With the demand for office space apparently dwindling and many High Streets struggling with occupancy rates, there may be a whole raft of potential regeneration and redevelopment opportunities in the future.

You can find further information about Seven Gables here.

Related: View our property for auction in Isle of Wight.

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