The new village in Sherborne


The new Platinum Skies community officially opened last week – and Courtenay Hitchcock discovered it wasn’t at all what he was expecting
Ceremonial opening the new Mayor of Sherborne Cllr Juliet Pentolfe cuts the ribbon. Image: Courtenay Hitchcock

The new retirement development on the site of the old Sherborne Hotel on the western edge of the town is not what you might be imagining. There is a noticeable absence of the usual small proportions, beige carpets, bland uniformity and ugly safety features.
Instead the new Platinum Skies development seems to take delight in rejecting every expectation of what ‘retirement living’ looks like, with everything designed and built around independence and community. The complex of 82 retirement apartments offers generouslysized accomodation, with up to three-bedroomed options available.

The main building housing the flats and communal areas & restaurant – Mulberry House.
Image: Courtenay Hitchcock

In the main building the ground floor communal area is accessible to the public, but beyond there are security measures restricting access. Here residents can enjoy communal TV and sociable lounges, a multi-activity studio for dance, pilates or movie nights, plus a health treatment room. The residents-only bistro
and bar is run as a not-for-profit enterprise, which means a full meal can be purchased for around £6.
The atmosphere is not one of a random group of elderly people living together. Instead, this feels like a ready-made village community. There are social spaces to share and enjoy, with a luxuriously comfortable
personal retreat behind each front door. Inviting interiors.

Street scene, main avvenue. Image: Courtenay Hitchcock

Looking around inside the houses and apartments it’s easy to see Platinum Skies’ attention to detail. Though a new build, the welcoming feel is of a quiet, solid construction with lots of natural light. The future-proofed extras, such as high-quality, easy-to-use appliances, sensor lighting and other thoughtful details, are there for any older resident. The atmosphere is as far away from an ‘old people’s home’ as one can imagine. This is simply good, thoughtful design from start to finish, aimed at encouraging long-term independence.
Comments were overwhelmingly positive from those residents who spoke to me – some have transferred from the Platinum Skies Poole community, excited to live in Sherborne and enjoy all the town has to offer, while keeping the friendly, involved Platinum Skies community.
The ceremonial opening As one of her first official engagements, the new Mayor of Sherborne Cllr Juliet Pentolfe cut the ribbon on the independentliving apartments in Mulberry House and neighbouring houses
which are home to people aged 55 and over.
Speaking after the event, she said: “I think it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s a brilliant concept and it has a wonderful community feeling. I’ve been to look around the apartments and the houses and as soon as you walk through the door, it feels as though you’re on holiday. It’s gorgeous.”

Mulberry House Courtyard. Image: Courtenay Hitchcock

Happy residents
Sherborne has two dedicated Community Managers, Hayley and Vanessa, who organise fun activities like wine tasting workshops, talks, live music, yoga, coffee mornings, quizzes, and crafts, as well as providing
practical and emotional support. Among the opening party’s guests were Pamela and Derek Emerson, who moved into a house in Canon Woods Close, earlier this year. Talking about the move, Derek said: “It’s one of the best new-build houses that we have seen. I think it’s one of the best moves we’ve ever made and that’s coming from someone who really didn’t want to move.”
Pamela added: “We lived on Dartmoor in a large house with no neighbours. It meant that we were isolated (although I was happy to spend all day in the garden!). Thinking about coming into a retirement village was
initially quite daunting, but we settled in quite quickly and the Community Managers go to a lot of effort for us, along with Agata who runs the bistro.”

A look round Paltinum Skies Sherborne – Images by Courtenay Hitchcock

Shared ownership
Platinum Skies works through a shared ownership scheme – its own, plus the government’s ‘help to buy’ scheme which is for over-55’s as well as young first time buyers. The minimum ownership is 25 per cent – but homeowners can vary how much of the property they own, releasing capital or reducing rent as life circumstances alter.
For more information go to or call the team on 01202 040996


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