“All retirement village owners and developers need is land use policy that supports, rather than hinders, development.”
A report commissioned by The Property Council of Australia highlights a range of barriers to successful retirement village developments – the primary hurdle being the need to compete on the open market to secure suitable land sites. The study summarises these obstacles as “The 5 ‘A’s of Retirement Living”:
The report states there is a widespread lack of understanding at both government and community level as to what retirement living development is and what its market drivers and social imperatives are. Key to this is the difference between retirement living and standard residential or aged care developments.
The sector faces a range of challenges in acquiring appropriate sites for development when competing in the open market. The requirement for ‘highest and best’ land use status in particular acts as an impediment to accessing sites in suitable locations.
Retirement living developments encounter a series of additional costs compared to their residential counterparts. Rate rebates, performance based design outcomes and exemptions or subsidies from infrastructure charging are just some possible steps towards improving affordability.
Prescriptive accessibility and mobility provisions create distinct obstacles for seniors’ housing. There is also a need for flexibility in policy when it comes to redevelopment and/or expansion of existing dwellings.
The report states that “the culture and attitude of the relevant local government can trump everything!” Appropriate support can mitigate complex planning policies – but equally, a resistant local government can exacerbate delays, costs and other issues.
The report makes numerous recommendations to improve the current situation, including:
- Widening the range of zones suitable for retirement villages
- Improving development yields through policy incentives
- Offering trunk infrastructure credits for open space and recreation facilities
- Simplifying assessment processes and speeding up approvals
- Implementing retirement living dwelling targets in accordance with local demographics
- Focusing on outcomes in planning provisions to respond to market needs
The Driving Growth in Retirement Living conference, taking place in Melbourne this May, will provide strategies for designing and constructing a portfolio to attract retirees. Book soon to secure early bird rates!