ELM Group celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding estate

  • RLHA Chief Exec Lorraine Collis with residents
  • RLHA team hosted a garden party on the front lawn at Vicarage Close
  • Mayor Shirley Anne-Sains reveals new plant patch

This month, property management company ELM Group is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its very first retirement estate Vicarage Close - a grade II listed building steeped in history and now the home of retired residents in the East Sussex village of Ringmer.

Starting out as the old Flint Vicarage, Vicarage Close soon became the UK’s first leasehold retirement independent living estate, offering a new concept for people of retirement age who valued owning their own property and saw the benefits of a purpose-built Estate, with on-site support from an Estate Manager.

The revered property was converted by RLHA – which sits under ELM Group - in 1973 along with the construction of three new two-storey buildings offering a total of 15 apartments for sale to retirees looking to enjoy their later years living in a peaceful community of like-minded individuals.


The estate, positioned in an idyllic position just off the village green in Ringmer, was granted grade II listed building status in 1979. A much-loved property within the local community, it is faced with knapped flints with long and short stone window surrounds and quoins, a traditional tiled roof, a combination of casement windows and traditional sash windows with intact glazing bars.

The company marked the historic occasion yesterday with an on-site garden reception for residents with local afternoon tea and special guest attendance from the Chairman of Ringmer Parish Council Cllr Gordon Sims and Mayor of Lewes Shirley-Anne Sains.

A newly planted Rhododendron was unveiled by Mayor Shirley-Anne Sains for the communal garden, along with the gift of a hand-painted picture of the estate.

Lorraine Collis, Chief Executive at ELM Group and RHLA, said: “Vicarage Close is a beautiful building and one we are proud to have owned and managed for the last 50 years. It’s an honour to celebrate such a historic milestone with residents and staff, and reflect on how far we have come as a company since we were founded in 1971.

We began with the shared vision to transform the sheltered housing sector for people of retirement age by developing the first affordable, purpose-built independent retirement living estate.

And now, we take pride in being able to continue to offer access to affordable independent retirement communities across our 110 estates.”

The development of Vicarage Close represented the beginning of many firsts for RHLA which now boasts an impressive portfolio of 110 estates across the South of England. In 1976, the company developed a bungalow estate which became the first ever shared-ownership Estate in England. This was pioneering work in developing the Leasehold Schemes for the Elderly (LSE). Then, the introduction of enfranchisement legislation for flat owners in 1993 later led to RLHA being chosen as managing agent by the two very first retirement Estates to enfranchise.

The company now manages retirement communities across the South of England and has become one of the UK’s leading retirement leasehold management companies. Having built upon their enviable reputation in the independent retirement living sector, RLHA are proud to be one of the South of England’s leading leasehold property management companies.

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