No need for harsher rules for retirement villages

2 August 2011

Councils still have the power to block retirement villages – no need for harsher rules


Local councils and planning panels still have the power to block new retirement villages and it would be worrying if the state governments review announced today leads to harsher rules, according to the Urban Taskforce. The Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said its not right to say that local councils and regional planning panels have lost the power to block retirement village proposals.

While the former state government did make a minor change to state policy just before it lost office, this change has only one consequence, Mr Gadiel said.

The change only required a local council or regional panel to consider the aims of the ˜Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability policy when they make their decision.

Mr Gadiel said the state policys aims are simple and uncontroversial:

¢ increasing the supply and diversity of residences that meet the needs of seniors or the disabled;

¢ making efficient use of existing infrastructure and services; and

¢ seeking good design.

A council or panel is still able to refuse approval based on environmental impacts and a sites suitability for development, Mr Gadiel said.

The need to increase the supply and diversity of seniors housing is only be one factor for a council to consider, and can be weighed against other factors, such as environmental issues.

Whats more, long standing provisions in the state policy actually forbid a council or panel from approving a development if its not going to be connected to a reticulated water system and have adequate facilities for the disposal of sewage.

Mr Gadiel said that there was strong demand for places in retirement villages, but high land costs in many existing urban areas are preventing new villages from being built.

Thats why its so important that rural land, on the edge of the existing urban footprint, is available for new seniors housing.

Local councils should consider the wider communitys need for seniors housing when they make their decisions.

NSW doesnt need even more rules making it even more difficult to house our aging population.

The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.

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