Cumbria chosen for pioneering new approach to retirement living

Cumbria has been chosen for the launch a revolutionary lifestyle project for retirement. Scalesceugh Hall Villas will open this summer with state of the art homes built in the grounds of a restored Edwardian mansion, five miles from Carlisle,  as part of a scheme which emphasises health and well-being.

The project is run by Dr Anita Herdeiro, an expert in healthcare provision for older people, and her husband Bruno. They are developing luxury retirement villas for people who intend to live in style and comfort, with on-site assistance if needed, and a family-friendly approach to the later years.

“We are offering a new perspective on retirement. People talk about growing old with dignity or with grace. To me that’s all about staying healthy and active in mind and body, keeping connected to friends and family and being part of a vibrant community,” said Anita.


Dr Anita Herdeiro

The multi-million pound scheme is modelled on projects operating in Scandinavian countries and Australia but is new to the UK. The houses, in acres of gardens and parkland, are a mix of semi-detached and terraced “cottages” with two bedrooms, and some with a study. All are built to the highest eco-friendly specifications, with an emphasis on sustainability, natural daylight and modern convenience.

Buyers will have access to facilities in the hall, including an elegant library, coffee lounge and activity room for yoga and other classes. A children’s playground in the gardens will encourage grandchildren to visit and stay.

Anita, one-time advisor at the New York Healthcare Corporation, and holder of a Diploma in Geriatrics, Royal College of Physicians, is a former elderly care commissioner for East North Herts CCG and London Medical Director for Care UK, the country’s largest independent provider of health and social care.

She said: “Working as a physician in units for medicine for the elderly, I saw the lack of provision for my patients for excellent holistic care. I saw examples across Europe and beyond which led me to think about creating  a more holistic environment for people who are concerned about keeping active, fit and well in their retirement. They have the best years of their life ahead, and we want to create an environment to make those years even better.”

garden view

Scalesceugh Hall and gardens: a new start for a healthy lifestyle in retirement

She and Bruno, an international strategic management consultant, and project leader for global management consultants BCG, sold up in London to buy Scalesceugh Hall, at Carleton south of Carlisle. Bruno is a specialist in healthcare and patient-centred models, and future trends in healthcare, and has been a strategy adviser to large organisations including  the NHS, NYHCC, and Save the Children.

They brought in a skilled workforce of craftsmen to restore the Grade 2 listed Edwardian mansion with guidance from English Heritage, and have also done extensive work in the gardens and grounds where the villas are being built. The project is privately financed and will cost around £3.6m.

“We know that what people want from retirement is about enjoying the fruits of all their hard work, and the freedom to live life to the full.  But we also know that it can be unpredictable. Our approach is to let people plan for the very best with the reassurance of help close by if they ever need it.”

The site will have an estates manager and gardener; residents will have use of the formal gardens and parkland, and access to the River Petteril. The scheme is far removed from the typical institutionalised living in most retirement homes; the houses have been designed with extra bedrooms so that family and friends are welcome to come and stay, and the gardens will be a wonderful playground for grand-children, says Anita.

It’s a lifestyle challenge of their own for the couple, who have three young children. But they are confident that their project will meet a growing need, particularly among owners of bigger houses who want to downsize, perhaps to release capital for their own families, or for themselves to enjoy retirement.

Scalesceugh is distinctive and different from any other schemes because residents will be involved in the staff recruitment process, from healthcare staff to gardeners and estate workers. And all the healthcare team will be trained personally by Anita “so they will have the best possible instruction, and our shared vision.”

That vision offers a lifestyle of convenience as well as luxury. “If you want to go away on holiday, you can lock up and leave knowing that security is our priority. Then when you come back, we can have your house ready with the heating on, with milk in your fridge and any other shopping as you need. We can even arrange for you to be picked up from the airport.”

The estate, while in the heart of the Cumbrian countryside, is only five miles from the centre of Carlisle, and the nearest GP surgery is five minutes by car – or bus. The M6 is just two miles away.


  • Britain’s population of over-65s will grow four times faster than the general population over the next five years.
  • Leading agents Knight Frank estimate that the over-60s in England alone have £1,200bn in unmortgaged housing wealth.  Yet owner-occupied retirement housing represents just 2 per cent of Britain’s total housing stock, according to Michael Ball, professor of urban and property economics at Henley Business School.
  • This compares with h the US (17 per cent, according to a 2011 study) or Australia and New Zealand (13 per cent). Despite this, only 1 per cent of total private sector house construction today is for the elderly, according to Knight Frank.



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