Legal & General to redevelop its own former HQ designed by Arup Associates in 1991

Haworth Tompkins has become one of the first architects to benefit from the introduction of online “virtual” planning committees, after it secured permission for a 270-home retirement community in Surrey.

It will involve the transformation of a listed Arup Associates headquarters building designed for Legal & General and completed in 1991, as well as the surrounding area.

The ability to take planning decisions via virtual committee was rushed through by the government late last month within the Coronavirus Act introduced in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, in order to allow the planning system to continue despite the lockdown.

L&G Kingswood later living

The £215m retirement scheme, approved by Reigate and Banstead council in a committee convened using online video conferencing software, is designed to transform Legal & General’s grade II*-listed former Kingswood, Surrey headquarters into one of the UK’s largest later living communities.

The new system of online committees, prohibited until this month by legislation dating from the 1970s, got its first test when a semi-virtual committee in Waltham Forest approved the biggest planning application in the borough’s history, a 750-home scheme by Pollard Thomas Edwards.

L&G, which in 2017 acquired later living brand Inspired Villages, said it will now transform the vacant and dilapidated 43-acre site - which was listed in 2017 as the firm moved out - into a vibrant later living community with 270 specialist age-appropriate apartments and up to 10 respite units alongside a wellness centre, including a swimming pool, studio, gymnasium and tennis courts, dining and recreation facilities.

L&G Kingswood later living 2

It said Inspired Villages will work with local GP practices and hospitals to help reduce pressure on the NHS and local care services.

Phil Bayliss, CEO of later living at Legal & General, said the permission was further evidence of the firm’s plan to revolutionise the later living market in the UK.

He said: “Covid-19 is already putting the care sector under extreme pressure, but by investing through and beyond the immediate crisis we believe that we can help to address the issue of future demand on the system – helping people to live in good health for longer.”