RAF charity reveals plans to convert Rothbury House into 26 retirement rooms
Rothbury House is to be given a new lease of life as retirement homes for RAF veterans and their spouses.
The Royal Air Forces Association aims to repurpose its former Wings Break hotel into independent-living accommodation.
The move comes after the charity carried out extensive research into the future use of the former respite care facility following its closure last year amid Covid-19 restrictions.
A survey of almost 20,000 RAF Association members aged 65 and over, carried out by the organisation during a review of its welfare service provision, revealed significant demand for good quality retirement housing where residents could share their RAF connection.
More than 500 respondents said they would be interested in moving to Rothbury House.
At a recent meeting, the Association’s trustees decided to retain Rothbury House and convert it into retirement accommodation.
Rory O’Connor, the RAF Association’s director of welfare and policy, said many months of research had shown the best future use for the building, and that he was thrilled the Association would be retaining the site.
He said: “The current design of Rothbury House lends itself to retirement living. All of its bedrooms, over four storeys, are en-suite and have level-entry access through wide corridors serviced by two lift points.
“Using the Association’s many years’ experience of running retirement complexes, we believe we can offer a safe setting at Rothbury, where people with a shared experience can find a sense of belonging.”
Subject to planning permission, the building, which shares a site with existing RAF Association retirement accommodation, will be developed in two phases.
The ground and first floors will be completed in the initial phase, providing 16 rooms by the autumn.
The second phase, expected in 2022-2025, will involve some internal alterations in order to provide ten additional rooms.
RAF Association tenants who already live on the Rothbury site, in apartments at Lord Tedder and Malcolm Courts, will be able to use communal facilities, including lounges and gardens, at the house.
Once Covid-19 restrictions have lifted, the RAF Association will again offer Wings Breaks at accommodation run by partner organisations.
Rory said: “These group breaks proved very successful prior to the pandemic, and we look forward to the time when it is safe for them to welcome RAF Association guests again.”