SOUTHEND is quickly becoming a retirement haven thanks to beautiful beaches, parks and the seafront as two major development complexes for senior citizens are set to come to the city.

It comes as new census data has revealed one in five people in Southend is over 65.

McCarthy and Stone is planning two major retirement complexes with plans for a former care home in Chalkwell Avenue and the former Nazareth House care home in London Road, Southend.

Councillors say Southend lends itself so well to retired lifestyles for many reasons, including the beautiful miles of sandy beaches, businesses and parks.

Tony Cox, leader of the Southend Tories, said: “It’s a good place to retire for a number of reasons, it is by the sea and the land is also by and large flat.

“It’s a good place if older people want some time to kick back and relax as they grow older as it’s by the coast.

“They also have more disposable income and businesses can always benefit from this very much too.

“They also tend to have no children so do have that extra money and time to relax and enjoy all that a coastal city that Southend can offer them.

“I think older people enjoy just driving down and being by the coast even on rainy days, I think it’s also the fresh air and all that Southend can provide them.

“I am not surprised to see these retirement complex plans coming through from McCarthy and Stone and there is clearly a market for this type of development.

He said we could see more plans like this coming forward and said it’s a good opportunity for people cashing in on their own homes and looking for somewhere new to live.

The retirement complex developer has submitted plans for 60 self-contained retirement flats and 84 assisted living homes at the site of the historic Nazareth House care home.

The site shut in February 2020 following a battle between the Nazareth Care Charitable Trust and Southend Council over plans to build a new care home on site.

The developer is also planning on a complex of 27 apartments for the over 60s at the site of a forming nursing home at 20 Chalkwell Avenue in Westcliff.

Mandy O’Connor, Labour councillor for Victoria, the ward where Nazareth House sits, also said the city has so much to offer retired and older people.

She said: “I think there are a number of reasons why it’s such a good place to retire. I think it’s a beautiful city with great beaches and superb parks too. I also think the amenities and services for older people are superb too.

“The seafront is great and such a lovely place for older people to relax and chill out. We have such a lovely stretch of beaches all along our coastline.”

The new census show Southend has an ageing population and that the proportion of over-65s calling the area home rose in the last decade.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there were 34,500 people aged 65 and over living in Southend on census day last year up from 30,798 in 2011, when the Census was last carried out.

It means the proportion of over-65s living in the area rose over the last decade from 17.7 per cent to 19.1 per cent.