Far From The Madding Child

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20100705

Firhall, in the Scottish Highlands, is the first village in Britain to be child-free.

To buy a property here, you have to be 45-plus with no dependent family in tow, and you must sign a contract agreeing not to sell property on to those with children.

The concept, adapted from an American idea which is growing in popularity in Europe, is the latest twist in the trend towards segregated communities.

But in a rapidly ageing population is it desirable - or even practical - to encourage these sorts of settlements where older people are segregated from the rest of society?

When it first opened, this child-free community of over-45s ruffled feathers, prompting a media hate campaign in which residents were denounced as child haters.

But as Kati Whitaker discovers, the residents have a quite different perspective.

They see Firhall as offering a new approach to life - where they can shrug off the old stereotypes associated with ageing and live full and active lives.

What's more, far from feeling shunted out of the mainstream and left to die out of sight, they claim Firhall provides them with their right to a life free from noise and hassle - a village which to them is nothing short of utopia.

Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Kati Whitaker goes in search of a child-free utopia among the elderly in Scotland.