An expansion of Kerikeri Retirement Village could see a two-storey apartment building erected on the town's main road.

If consents are granted and it goes ahead as planned it will be Kerikeri's first multi-level retirement complex and only its second two-storey block of flats.

It would be built on the former Enz of the Earth site, next to the village, with 30 apartments constructed in two stages.

Kerikeri Retirement Village chief executive Hilary Sumpter said it had been designed to look like a large house rather than an apartment block. The road frontage would be softened with landscaping and existing trees along Kerikeri Rd would remain.

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The original plan was to build 10 new units but people kept asking for apartments, she said.

It was aimed at "active octogenarians" who wanted a low-maintenance home they could lock up and leave while travelling. The one- and two-bedroom apartments would range from 50 to 110sq m.

Ms Sumpter said it was a multimillion-dollar project but she would not divulge the exact price tag. It would be funded by a commercial loan repaid by the sale of apartments.

The retirement and aged-care sector was changing rapidly with people living and staying active for longer, she said. At the same time expectations of what the elderly could and should do in retirement were becoming less restrictive.

"All this adds up to mean that retirement communities are changing from being places where mum and dad went to live when they became too frail to look after themselves, to places where people go earlier to make the most of their well-earned retirements."

The village currently has 170 residents, expected to hit 220 when the apartment block is occupied, and 130 staff. The expansion would bring extra employment in hospitality, gardening, maintenance and heath care.

Stage 1 would open in October next year and stage 2 in November 2019. It would be built using tilt-slab concrete, with lighting and heating designed to minimise the environmental impact. Consultation is expected to take several weeks; tenders will be let once consents are granted.

The site is separated from the rest of the village by a 3m-wide strip of land owned by the Far North District Council and previously incorporated into the Enz of the Earth property.

At their May meeting councillors agreed to sell the "panhandle" land to the village.

Kerikeri Retirement Village opened 30 years ago and is run by a charitable trust. The residents' average age is 87 but that is expected to drop to 80 when the apartments are completed.